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Full text of "The Saturday evening quill;"

^ 



THE 








Saturday 
Evening 

Quill 




OF 

THE" 

SATURDAY 

tVENING 
CUILL 

CLUB 

BOSTON 
MASS 





I I II IM I I ANNUALLY 



If a 



SECOND NUMBER 



\r nr 1929 



Last Year's Issue of The Saturday Evening Quill 

Short stories by Edythe Mae Gordon, Eugene Gordon, Gertrude Schalk, and 
Dorothy West, printed in the first number of the Saturday Evening Quill, June 
1928, were listed under favorable headings in Edward J. O'Brien's "Best Short 
Stories of 1928" and in the "O. Henry Memorial Award Prize Stories of 1928." 

Dorothy West's story, "An Unimportant Man," was reprinted in Columbia 

University's annual of student literature "Copy, 1929," published by Appleton. 

* * * 

Three poems, as follows, were reprinted in Braithwaite's Anthology of Maga- 
zine Verse for 1928 : Marion Grace Conover's "Quest," Waring Cuney's "Murder 

Blues," and Gertrude Parthenia McBrown's "Purple Dawn." 

* * * 

Requests for copies of The Saturday Evening Quill, many of which were 
accompanied by money, came from all sections of the country. We still regret 
that the limited edition of 250 copies, and the fact that the magazine was not for 
sale, made it impossible for us to grant these requests. 



Excerpts from Comments on the First Number of 
The Saturday Evening Quill 

Many more pretentious anthologies of recent months have lacked stories, 
poems, and articles equal in merit to the forty or more gathered here.— Boston 

Herald. 

* * * * 

It has been well edited. The writers, with their fine candor, have not spared 
themselves. Scissors and blue pencil have been ruthlessly at work. The net re- 
sult is seventy-two pages of very excellent material.— Alice Dunbar Nelson. 

* * * * 

... It is good to see such movements as the Saturday Evening Quill Club. 
Of such things good literature will come. . . . Harlem writers should follow their 

example.— N. Y. Amsterdam News. 

* * * * 

The June annual of the Saturday Evening Quill Club of Boston is a hand- 
some concoction of prose and verse by unprofessional writers, who, incidentally, 
happen to be Negroes. There is an admirable absence of jazz and Harlem pos- 

turings in this publication of the Boston Afro-Americans.— Commonweal. 

* * * * 

Had the Saturday Evening Quill Club done nothing but publish Dorothy 
West's story of "An Unimportant Man," its work would have been worth while.— 
Washington Tribune. 

* * * * 

The magazine is artistic, meaty, and altogether creditable. Indeed, it is one 
of the best of its kind published by Negroes.— The Bostonian. 

* * * * 

Of the booklets issued by young Negro writers in New York, Philadelphia, 
and elsewhere, this collection from Boston is the most interesting and best. ... It 
is well printed and readable and maintains a high mark of literary excellence — 
W. E. B. Du Bois. 

* * * * 

Boston may be literarily defunct, as many outside and unknowing critics de- 
clare, but it boasts of one organization which is endeavoring in its quiet way to 
produce some literature that is really worth while.— Boston Evening Transcript. 

The community is uplifted by the Saturday Evening Quill Club's work, a 
limited edition of a seventy-two page magazine for which it pays in its entirety. 
It is the kind of stuff which makes the race problem solve itself.— Renzie Lemus. 






This Number of 



J* 

\ 

The Saturday Evening Quill f 

i 
i 



is dedicated 
to the memory of 

A. Aloysius Greene 

the inevitability of whose 

brilliant future 

only death 

could hinder 



He Died at Twenty-three 






-> > > t 



\ i ",,' 






I 



» ' • a » » » , ■ J 



». «•• .»• ',' ' 






^4 Statement to the Reader 

The Saturday Evening Quill appears for the second time with this num- 
ber, its first appearance having been made in June, 1928. Like the first . 
number, this one contains the best of a year's writings by members of the 
Saturday Evening Quill Club, a "best" which the writers themselves un- 
hesitatingly admit to be lacking many essentials of great literature. 

Its purpose still being chiefly to present original work of Saturday Eve- 
ning Quill Club members to themselves, this publication is still not for sale. 
And notwithstanding the exclamations of incredulity that were heard last 
year, we iterate that members are not particularly desirous of receiving 
praise for what is found herein. However, they will not close their ears 
either to praise or to adverse criticism. The excerpts printed on the inside 
of the front cover may seem to challenge our sincerity, but they do not, 
really. They were put there principally to show that a number of re- 
sponsible-minded readers concurred in the judgment of the editor. It 
chances that all the comments were favorable. 

Members of the Saturday Evening Quill Club have again paid for their 
little folly out of their own pockets and purses, and are indebted only to 
themselves. 

Finally (although this fact is no more important now than it was last 
year), the ages of contributors run all the way from 60-odd to 21. You 
whose curiosity leads you to inquire further, may amuse yourselves by fitting 
authors to ages between the years from 21 to 60-odd.— The Editor. 



> • . « • 



*-c 



*.• 



The Saturday Evening Quill 

BEING THE ANNUAL OF 

The Saturday Evening Quill Club of Boston 



SECOND NUMBER 



APRIL, 1929 



tg Table of 

Cover Design, Monogram, and Three Drawings — 
by Roscoe Wright. 

Last Year's Issue op The Saturday Evening Quill 

Inside Front Cover 

Dedication 1 

A Statement to the Reader 2 

Fireflies: Verse by Gertrude P. McBrown; Drawing 
by Lois M. Jones 4 

Prologue to a Life — Story Dorothy West 5 

A Sonnet Earl Lawson Sydnor 10 

Three Poems Edyihe Mae Gordon 11 

Maria Peters — Sketch Florida Ruffin Ridley 12 

Regalia — Poem Helene Johnson 14 

Negro Fictionists in America — Article 

Eugene Gordon 16 

Worship — Poem Helene Johnson 21 

In Winter — Poem Grace Vera Postles 2 1 

Three Poems ry Alvira Hazzard 22 

Rustic Fantasy — Poem Helene Johnson 23 

Destruction — Poem Alice E. Furlong 23 

"Rah way Club" — Poem Waring Cuney 23 

The Girl From Back Home Ralf M. Coleman 25 

Two Poems by Alice E. Furlong 30 

Four Poems Waring Cuney 31 

Attic Romance — Story Florence Marion Harmon 32 

A Study in Color Earl Lawson Sydnor 33 



Contents 



<£ 



Four Poems A. Aloysius Greene 34 

Sarcophagus — Story Eugene Gordon 36 

The Cosmic Voice — Poem. . . George Reginald Margetson 40 

Little Heads — Play Alvira Hazzard 42 

Four Poems Grace Vera Postles 45 

The Red Cape — Story Gertrude Schalk 46 

Amicitia — Poem Joshua H. Jones, Jr. 49 

A Group of Poems Gertrude Parthenia McBrown 50 

If Wishes Were Horses. — Story . .Edy •the Mae Gordon 52 

Love Me — Poem Edythe Mae Gordon 53 

Four Poems Joshua H. Jones, Jr. 54 

Washwoman — Story Roscoe Wright 56 

Two Poems by Helene Johnson 60 

Four Poems by Earl Lawson Sydnor 61 

Help Wanted — Play Joseph S. Mitchell 62 

Fancies — Poem Earl Lawson Sydnor 71 

A Group of Poems Alice E. Furlong 72 

Blind Alley— Story Alvira Hazzard 73 

I See You — Poem Edythe Mae Gordon 74 

Burial of the Young Love — Poem Waring Cuney 75 

I Am Not Pround — Poem Helene Johnson 75 

Dust to Dust — Poem Joshua H>. Jones, Jr. 76 

Remember Not — Poem Helene Johnson 76 

Young Love — Poem Edythe Mae Gordon 76 

Is the Negro Happy? — Article Roscoe Wright 77 

The Saturday Evening Quhl Club. . . .Inside Rear Cover 



The Saturday Evening Quill Club is an organization of Boston writers. 
Most of these men and women are unprofessional, and all, incidentally, are 
Negroes (although anybody who meets the Club's constitutional test may become 
a member). 

Material in this publication remains the personal property of the writers. 
Anyone who is interested may communicate with the authors through the editor,— 

Eugene Gordon, 32 Copley Street, Cambridge, Mass. 







FIRE-FLIES 



When the tired day 
Smiles with the happy nigfyt, 
A thousand fireflies 
Flicker lanterns bright. 



Happy at their play, 
Flashing yellow lights, 
A thousand fireflies 
Shine with stars at nights. 

Gertrude Parthenia McBrown. 



SECOND NUMBER 



APRIL, 1929 



The Saturday Evening Quill 



Prologue to a Life 

By DOROTHY WEST 




N 1896 Luke Kane had met and mar- 
ried Lily Bemis. He had been very 
much in love with her. And she had 
literally fallen at his feet, stumbling 
over his bicycle, lying flat before the 
back door, and sprawling before him, her full 
skirts billowing about her, and quite all of the 
calves of her legs showing. 

Luke, in an instant, was out of the kitchen, 
and had gathered the hired girl in his arms, and 
was cursing his bicycle and soothing her in the 
same breath. 

She was small and soft. Though her face was 
hidden against his breast, he saw that her arms 
were golden, and her dark hair wavy and long. 

"Is that your old bicycle?" Lily asked tear- 
fully. "You're fixin' to kill somebody." 

"Ain't I the biggest fool!" he agreed. 

She got herself out of his arms and, sitting 
down on the steps, she tried to do things with her 
clothes and hair. 

"What anybody'd put an old bicycle right in 
the doorway for—" 

But he was staring into her eyes. 

"How long you been working for Miz 
Trainor?" 

"I've seen you before," she told him. "Lots." 

"Yeh? Don't you speak to nobody?" 

"Gentlemen to whom I been introduced. Oh, 
yes." 

"I'm somebody round these parts," he boasted. 
"Ever heard of Manda Kane?" 

"Sure. We get our fancy cakes from her 
when we're having parties and things." 

"I'm her son," he informed her, proudly. "I 
been up here delivering. My name's Luke." 

"Yeh?" Her eyes were bright with interest. 
Mine's Lily Bemis." 

"Come from the South?" 



"Born there. Yes. But I came up with the 
Mitchells when they came. That's been five 
years. But then old Miz Mitchell died, and the 
two girls got married. I never cared much for 
old Mister Mitchell, so I came on to Springfield. 
'Cause Mamie Cole went on to Boston and said 
I could take her place here. I knew Miz Trainor 
was good and all, and didn't have no small 
children. So I sorta thought I'd try it. Gee, I'm 
young and everything. If I don't like it here, I 
can travel on." 

He plumped down beside her. 

"Listen," he said softly, "I hope you'll like it 
here." 

Her eyes were two slits and dangerous. 

"Why— Luke?" 

" 'Cause, then," he said huskily, "you'll stay. 
And I can be likin' you." 

She bent to him suddenly. "You're the fun- 
niest coon. Your eyes are blue as blue." 

"Yeh. It's funny, black as I am," he said 
modestly. 

She put two slim yellow fingers against his 
cheek. "You're not black at all. You're just 
dark brown. I think you're a beautiful color." 

His eyes that were like a deep sea glowed with 
gratitude. "I sorta like yours the best." 

"Oh, me, I'm not much I" she said carelessly. 
"What makes you think I'm pretty?" 

"I dunno. You're so little and soft and sweet. 
And you ain't so shy." 

She was instantly on her feet. "If you think 
I'm bold, sitting out here with you, when we 
never been introduced—" 

"Looka here!" He was on his feet, too. 
"Women's the funniest things. I'm liking you 
'cause you're not like everyone else, and you're 
bristling ! I can have any girl in this little old 
town of Springfield I want. But I'm not making 
up to any 'cause I ain't found none that suited 
me. My mother's orful particular. We got a 



THE SATURDAY EVENING QUILL 



name in this town. You're the first girl I'm lik- 
ing, and you're cutting up!" 

But she was inside of the screen door now, and 
he saw her hook it. She came very close to it, but 
she was careful not to press her nose against it. 

"Listen, Mr. Kane, I like you, too. I want to 
meet you proper. What would folks say if they 
knew we met like this? Me with two buttons 
off my shirtwaist and my hair net torn? But 
tomorrow's prayer meeting night, and I'm going. 
I'm an A. M. E. If that's your church, too, you 
come on over. I'll get Miz Hill to get Reverend 
Hill to introduce us proper." 

He gulped. "Can I bring you home after?" 

She considered it. "Maybe I'll let you be keep- 
ing my company," she promised. 

There followed a whirlwind month of court- 
ship. Lily had a hundred moods. They were a 
hundred magnets drawing Luke. She did not 
love him. Deep within her was an abiding am- 
bition to see her race perpetuated. Though she 
felt that her talents were of a high order, she 
knew she would escape greatness through her lack 
of early training. And she had the mother in- 
stinct. Thus she would rather bear a clever 
child. In her supreme egoism she believed the 
male seed would only generate it. She would not 
conceive of its becoming blood of her child's 
blood, and flesh of her child's flesh. Men were 
chiefly important as providers. She would have 
married any healthy man with prospects. . . . 

5) 

Late in the summer Lily and Luke were mar- 
ried. Lily didn't want a church wedding. They 
were married in Reverend Hill's front parlor. 
Miz Hill and Manda Kane stood up with them. 
Ma Manda was tearful. She was losing her only 
son to a low- voiced yellow woman. She knew 
the inescapable bond of soft skin and hair. 

Lily, standing quietly by Luke's side, felt a 
vast contentment. She respected the man she 
was marrying. She faced the future calmly. She 
only wanted their passion to be strong enough 
to yield a smart and sturdy son. 

Later that day they were on a train that was 
bound, by the back door route, for Boston. They 
sat in the coach with their little belongings piled 
all about them. Luke made sheep's eyes at Lily 
and felt very proud. He was wondering whether 
it was obvious that they had just been married. 
He rather wanted the phlegmatic passengers to 
admire his golden bride. 

He drew her round dark head on to his 
Page Six 



shoulder, and caught his hand in the tendrils of 
her hair. 

"Guess I'm the happiest man in the world, 
and the proudest." 

"Ho, you're not proud of me!" 

"You are the moon and the stars, Lily, and the 
bright sun." 

She twisted her head and looked deep into his 
kind eyes. 

"Luke, do you love me as much as that?" 

"You watch me," he told her. "I'll bring you 
the world on a silver platter. Lily, I'll make you 
jL queen." 

She rubbed her little hand up and down his 
arm. 

"How much money we got now, Luke?" 

"Enough," he boasted, "to live like millionaires 
for maybe a week in Boston." 

"Luke," she said earnestly, "we're not going 
back. Ever." 

He was pleased. "Our honeymoon will last 
wherever we are." 

She was almost impatient. "It ain't that ! " 

He drew away from her and stared down at her 
hard. 

"What in the name of God—" 

"Let's eat," she said, and dug about for Ma 
Manda's hamper. 

She put the linen napkin on her lap and laid 
out the sandwiches, licking her fingers when the 
mayonnaise or jam or butter had oozed through. 

"Chicken," she announced, "and ham, and I 
reckon this is po'k, Luke 1 " 

He balanced the coffee on his knee. "There's 
cups somewheres, Lily." 

Presently they were hungrily eating, Luke al- 
most wolfishly. 

"We've caught our train," said Lily, with a 
little nervous laugh. He was making her rather 
ill. 

He took a great gulp of coffee. 

"Always was a fast eater. Father before me 
was." 

Her hand tightened over his. "You could die," 
she said with real concern, "of indigestion." 

He ducked his head suddenly and kissed her 
wrist. 

"But I'll make you your million before I do." 

Thus she let him go back to his eating, and she 
gave him an almost indulgent smile. 

Once in the vast South Station they stood for a 
moment, bewildered. They both felt newly mar- 
ried and foolishly young. Lily had a sudden 
sense of panic. Suppose Ma Manda never for- 



PROLOGUE TO A LIFE 



gave them. Suppose Luke died or deserted her. 
Suppose she was never able to bear a child. 

And then she saw Mamie Cole coming toward 
them. She flew into her arms. 

"The blushing bride and groom ! " cried Mamie, 
and offered her cheek to Luke. 

"Well, it's nice to see you," said Luke, rather 
shyly kissing her. 

"I'm only off for an hour," she explained, "so 
we better get up to the flat. I got you three real 
nice rooms, Lily, in front." 

"Three—?" echoed Luke. His voice fell in 
disappointment. "I kinda thought— a hotel—" 

"Luke ! " Lily caught his arm fast. Her brown 
eyes were dark with pleading. "Luke, it's not a 
hotel room I want. It's a home." 

He asked in bewilderment: "Here— in Bos- 
ton?" 

"Listen, we're not going back. We're laying 
our corner-stone here. There's far and away 
more business in Boston than in Springfield. Just 
you see. I want my husband. Luke, I want my 
home. I want my— son. Back home we'd have 
to live with your mother. She's got that big 
house. And, Luke, I can't get along with no 
women. I almost hate women. They're not 
honest. They're weaklings. They care about 
cheap things. God knows you're going to find it 
hard to live with me— and you love me. I don't 
want nothing but my man and my son. That's 
me, Luke." 

He had the most terrible longing to take her 
in his arms. 

"Your man and your son ? Lily, my girl, you've 
got your man. By God, you'll have your 
son. . . ." 

In 1898 Lily gave birth to twins. 

They were boys, with Lily's soft yellow skin 
and fine brown eyes, and all about them the look 
of her, somehow. Jamie and John. They were 
completely sons of Lily. To her they were gods. 

Luke had been getting on in a fair sort of way 
before the twins were born. He had opened a 
tiny lunch stand in the South End. Lily had 
been helping with the cooking. After a barely 
perceptible start, business had picked up nicely. 
Luke could cook almost as well as his mother. 
And Lily, growing prettier and plumper every 
day, and rapidly learning badinage, was an ob- 
vious attraction. 

She worked until the week before the twins 
were born. Then Ma Manda, in panicky self- 
reproach, hurried on to Boston, saw to it that a 
proper girl was hired, packed Lily off to the New 



England Hospital, and looked about at houses. 
She decided on a red-brick one on a quiet street 
in Brookline, and bought it through a profiteer- 
ing agent. She ordered atrocious furniture on the 
credit plan (Lily returned it piece by piece later), 
and awaited the birth of her grandchild in grim 
satisfaction. 

To the triumphant Lily the world existed for 
two golden babies. These were her lives to shape 
and guide. These were her souls to expand. She, 
with her constant faith, must quicken their 
geniuses. 

So the years passed. Jamie and John were 
three and able to read. Then John at four could 
bang out a harmony on the new upright piano. 
Jamie at six was doing third grade lessons. . . . 

They were nine. And Lily's pride, and joy, 
and love, and life. They had not cried in their 
cradle. They had never been jealous of each 
other. They had given her and Luke whole- 
heartedly their love. They wrote regularly and 
beautifully to their grandmother. Their teachers 
adored them. Despite their talents, they were 
manly, and popular with children. They had 
never been ill. They were growing like weeds. 
John, at the Boston Conservatory, had been 
singled out as an extraordinary pupil. His little 
sensitive face had stared out of many daily pa- 
pers. Jamie, in the seventh grade, leading his 
class, was the marvel of his school. He could 
solve the mathematical problems of high school 
students. He could also discuss his future with 
calm assurance. . . . 

Lily was thirty-two now. And a housewife. 
Occasionally she swept into the shop which had 
been yearly enlarged until it comprised three 
wide windows and twenty-two tables. The doc- 
tors and lawyers who frequented the place would 
rise and eagerly greet her. She was completely 
complacent. She was fat, but her skin was firm 
and soft to Luke's touch. Her eyes were clear 
and content. There were always tender anec- 
dotes about her boys. Jamie and John. The 
realization of her dreams, the growing fulfillment 
of her hopes, the latent genius quickening. 

She walked in peace. She knew ten years of 
utter harmony. She was therefore totally unpre- 
pared for any swift disruption. 

In 1908 the twins were ten. Though they were 
young men now with certain futures, they were 
still very charming, and went swimming or skat- 
ing with the boys on their block whenever they 
were called for. . . . 

It was on the last day of March, going all too 
meekly like a Iamb, that Lily, in her kitchen, 

Page Seven 



THE SATURDAY EVENING QUILL 

making the raisin-stuffed bread pudding the twins smart little boys. Now death had shattered their 

adored, sat down suddenly with her hand to her spell for him. He even wondered vaguely why it 

throat, and her heart in a lump against it. She did not occur to Lily she might have another 

was alone, but she knew she was not ill. She child. 

made no attempt to cry out to a neighbor. She One night, after a silent meal that Luke had 

could see, as clearly as though she stood at the cooked himself to tempt the too light appetite of 

pond's edge, the twins, their arms tight about each his women, Lily rose abruptly from the supper 

other, crashing through the treacherous ice, mak- table, and with the knuckles of her clenched fists 

ing no outcry, their eyes wide with despair, showing white, said in a voice that she tried to 

dragged swiftly down, brought up again to break keep steady: "Luke, I'm sleeping in the twins' 

her heart forever, and Jamie's red scarf, that Ma room tonight. I— I guess I'll go on up now. 

Manda had knitted for him, floating. . . . G'night, Ma Manda. 'Night, Luke." 

Within twenty minutes three frightened chil- An hour later, when he softly tried the door, it 

dren brought her the news. Two days later their was locked, 

bodies were found. Lily identified them in a dim ^ 

dank morgue. A year passed. Lily, a little mad in her con- 
The twins lay together in a satin-lined casket stant communion with her dead, had grown some- 
in the flower-filled parlor. They were very lovely how hauntingly lovely, with her loosened hair 
in their last sleep. The undertaker's art had always tangled, her face thin and pale and ex- 
restored them and enhanced them. There was quisite, and her eyes large and brightly knowing, 
about their mouths that too exquisite beauty that Now she was voluble with Ma Manda, though 
death brings to the mouths of children who die there were no notes in her voice. She kept up a 
in pain. Dead, they were more similar than liv- continual stream of pathetic reminiscences. And 
ing. And it was James Who looked like John. . . . she went about her house with her hands out- 
James and John were Lily. James and John stretched briefly to caress some memorial to her 
were dead. Only the fact that she had watched boys. 

her heart and soul flung into the earth with her Ma Manda indulged her. To her there was 

sons kept Lily's body alive. She was spiritually only beauty in Lily's crazy devotion. She had 

a dead woman walking in the patient hope of loved Luke's golden sons more than she had ever 

physical release. There was no youth in her any loved Luke. As with Lily, throughout their 

more. Her body was no longer firm, but flabby, growing, they had become her sole reality. With 

Her eyes were lustreless. Her lips that had al- the ancient's idea of duty, she kept their memory 

ways been a little too thin were a line now that fresh, her sorrow keen. She went regularly to a 

went sharply down at each corner. And the voice Baptist church and wailed when the preacher 

that had bantered richly with her boys, that had harangued the dead. 

thrilled like a girl's at the intimate bass of a And always for Luke, in his starved normal 

man, was quavering, and querulous, and, all too passion, surprisingly not the brute, Lily's light 

often, still. . . . body was a golden mesh. 

Ma Manda stayed on. Lily wanted it. They Lily had sat by an open window, staring up at 

were held by their mutual bereavement. The the stars, her bare feet on a chilled floor, her 

twins, dead, were more potent than ever they nightgown fluting in the wind. Presently she 

could have been, living. Now Lily and Ma had begun to sneeze. Soon her eyes and her nose 

Manda knew there was nothing these boys could were running. When she got into Jamie's white 

not have done, no world they would not have bed, she felt a great wave engulf her. In the 

conquered, had they lived. morning she was very ill. 

Ma Manda one week-end returned to Spring- Lily felt that she was dying. And she was 

field, sold her house and the two fine mares, and afraid to die. She hated pain. She had given no 

her business and her lease to a prosperous Ger- thought to death before the death of her twins. 

man. Her only sentimentalities were two rib- After that she had thought of her going as only 

boned packets of letters. a dreamless sleeping and a waking with her sons. 

Luke was sorry that the twins were dead, but Now there was something in her chest that was 

his heart was not broken . Lily was his world, making her last hours torture. And a cough that 

While she lived there was hope, and love, and tore her from the hot pillows and started that 

life. He had no real conception of the genius of jerk and pull in her heart. Sometimes her breath 

the twins. He had always thought of them as was a shudder that shook her body. 

Page Eight 



PROLOGUE TO A LIFE 



In the first hours of the third night, she 
clutched at Ma Manda and stared up at her with 
eyes so full of piteous appeal that Ma Manda 
said sharply and involuntarily: "Lily, my child, 
you best let Luke in. He's a great one for heal- 
ing. There's the power of the Almighty in his 
hands." 

Lily made a little gesture of acquiescence. Ma 
Manda went softly, fumbling in her tears. 

Luke bent over Lily. His blue eyes burned. 
They were dark and deep and glowing. She 
felt her own eyes caught in them. Felt her 
senses drowning. He flung one hand up to the 
sky, the fingers apart and unbending. The other 
he pressed against her chest till his flesh and her 
flesh were one. 

He was exalted and inspired. The muscles 
leaped in his arm. He was trembling and black 
and mysterious. 

"Lily, my girl, God's going to help you. God 
in His heaven's got to hear my prayer ! Just put 
your faith in me, my darling. I got my faith in 
Him. I got a gift from the heavenly Father. 
Praise His name ! Lily, my Lily, I got the 
power to heal ! " 

Strength surged out of him— went swinging 
down through the arm upraised, flashed through 
his straining body, then shot down and tingled 
in his fingers which had melted into her breast. 
They were like rays, destroying. Five streams 
of life, pouring into her sick veins, fierce, tumul- 
tous, until the poison and the pain burst into 
rivulets of sweat that ran swift and long down 
her quivering body, and presently left her washed 
clean and quiet and very, very tired. 

Then Luke's words came in a rush, in the voice 
of one who had fought a hard fight, or run a long 
race, yet deep and tremblingly beautiful. 

"God, be praised! God, the Maker, we 
humbly thank Thee ! Thou heard ! Thou 
heard ! ! Thou gave me strength to heal ! O 
God, this poor child— my Lily— she's well ! She 
can rise and take up her bed and walk ! O God, 
Thou art the Father of all living! Thou art 
life ! Thou art love ! Thou art love ! ! Thou 
art love III" 

He slumped down on his knees and burst into 
wild tears. His head went bumping against 
Lily's breast. 

In her relief and gratitude and wonderment, 
she felt her first compassion for her husband. In 
his weakness she was strong. She was a mother. 

He clung to her. He was a man sick with 
passion. 



Presently she said: "Lie with me, Luke," and 
drew him up into her arms. 

For Lily, and for Luke, and for Ma Manda, 
after a week or two, that night, crowded out of 
their consciousness, might never have been. Lily 
went back to her inner life ; Ma Manda to the 
spiritual needs of her daughter-in-law and the 
physical needs of her son ; Luke to the old apa- 
thetic content in Lily's apparent contentment. 

But one Sunday morning as he lay staring at a 
bright patch of sunlight on the wall and hearing 
faintly the bells of the Mission Church without 
emotion, the door creaked sharply. 

Lily came in and stood at the foot of his bed. 

He sat up in real surprise and made a vague 
gesture toward his bathrobe. 

Her eyes were level into his and full of scorn. 
Her face was pale and proud. Her lips were a 
thin twist of contempt. 

She was so lovely and so terrible in her fury 
that he caught his breath. 

He scuttled down to the foot of the bed and 
gripped her wrist tight. 

"Lily, you sick? For God's sake, what ails 
you?" 

She flung her arm free. "I'm going to have a 
child. Another child! Well, it's yours. I've 
borne my babies. And I've buried them. This 
is your little black brat, d'you hear? You can 
keep it or kill it. If it wasn't for my babies in 
heaven, I'd get rid of it with the deadliest poison. 
But I can't damn my soul to hell for a wretched 
child that may be born dead. And if it lives"— 
her voice was a wail— "I curse it to my despair !" 

For the first time since his childhood, Luke 
flung himself down full length on the bed and 
cried. . . . 

3) 

In the months that followed, Ma Manda and 
Luke, in their terrific watchfulness, had a nine 
months' travail, too. 

Lily's child was born on a spring morning in a 
labor so fierce that both of them, after hours of 
struggle, lay utterly spent; the child in the big 
white crib that had been the twins', the mother, 
for the last time, on her own great mahogany 
bed. 

Lily was conscious, and calm. She was dying 
as she had wanted to die, painlessly. She felt no 
curiosity about her baby. She had heard a sharp 
whisper. "It's a girl," which she had half ex- 
pected, and had turned her face from the sound 

Page Nine 



A SONNET 



of it to summon all of her strength for a bitter 
chuckle. 

Presently Luke came to stare down at her. His 
eyes were filled with a great desperation. He, 
too, had forgotten the new baby. Lily was dying. 

"Lily"— his voice was deep and tender— "just 
put your faith in God. My Father has never 
failed me. He'll pull you through." 

She was quietly exalted. "I have come 
through." 

"Lily, I love you. Don't act that way. Put 
your hand in mine. Let me help you, my dar- 
ling." 

His hand went out to her. She saw the fingers 
stiffen, straighten, and the muscles pulling in 
his arm. 

But she made no move. 

"Are you too weak? Let me raise your hand. 
The power of God is in me. It leaps like a young 
ram. Only touch me, Lily ! " 

Ma Manda, kneeling at the foot of the bed, 
wrung her hands and wailed, "Only touch him, 
Lily!" 

Her eyes were wide and seeking. Her mouth 
was tremulous and beautiful. With a tremendous 
effort she raised herself up from her pillow. Her 
braids went lopping over her breasts. 

Her hands went out, slowly, gropingly. Luke 
waited, quivering, his heart in his mouth. 

But then she sighed sharply. Her hands 



clasped tightly. Her eyes were passionate. Her 
face was glorious. 

It was Ma Manda who scrambled to her feet 
and laid her back on the pillow, and knew that 
she was dead, and gently brushed the lids over 
her eyes. 

In the instant when her soul leaped to the sun, 
the new baby whimpered, once, then again, and 
was still. Luke turned toward it with a furious 
oath. He bent over the crib and looked down at 
the tiny dark bundle that was scarcely anything 
at all, with its quiet hands and shut eyes. 

In the sudden hope that it had died, he put his 
hand over its heart. 

The baby opened its eyes. They were blue — 
as deeply blue as his own, but enormous and in- 
finitely sad. It was their utter despairing that 
moved him. He felt for this child a possessive 
tenderness such as the twins had never inspired. 
It was a woman-child. He understood her 
frailty. 

So he knelt and slapped her face hard, and 
breathed into her mouth, and cried out Lily I 
Lily! naming her. He urged the strength in his 
spatulate fingers to quicken the beat of her heart. 
He prayed, "God, be merciful !" again and again. 

She broke into a lusty wail and fell into a 
normal sleep, with the tears still wet on her 
cheeks. 

Lily was dead, and Lily was not dead. A 
mother is the creator of life. And God cannot 
die. 



A Sonnet 

After the blithesome world succumbs in rest, 

And stars appear to deck the barren night, 

I choose a path I think leads to delight. 

Alone I trample, feeling I'm a guest 

Of Nature. Hark! a song bird chirps its best 

To cheer me in my solitary flight 

From loneliness. Yet, still within my sight, 

I sense a calling for his mate to nest. 

The birds are mating, flowers mingling too. 

The frisky waters in that splashing brook 

Sing songs -of love . . . With love she weds the sea. 

The pallid moon takes on a blending hue 

From out the purple sky . . . And so I took 

This path not knowing Nature laughs at me. 

Earl Lawson Sydnor. 



Page Ten 



Three Poems 



By EDYTHE MAE GORDON 



/ Understand 

I did not understand : 

I only knew 

That ere he turned to go 

His eyes strayed to the Madonna, 

There on my chamber wall. 

She smiled on the Infant Jesus 

Cradled in her arms. 

Sorrow wells in this breast 

No child has e'er caressed. 

From my window, I see 

Naked trees, stripped of their leaves. 

Now he is gone, 

I understand. 



Tribute 

Your graceful bronze limbs 
Are like palm leaves 
Moving rhythmically 
In the wind. 



You'd wear your nudity 
With charming candor: 
The artificial and false 
You abhor. 



One Summer s Day 

One Summer's day 

Love and I 

Walked toward the horizon. 

The cool, fresh breeze 

Played among the trees. 

We grew weary, 

Love and I, 

And fell asleep. 

When I awoke 

I was alone . . . 

Love had gone. 



Your body is beautiful 

And strong, 

Your sensibilities 

Fragile, 

Your nature artistic. 

My dormant soul is stimulated 

By your smile. 



Page Eleven 



Maria Peters 

Portrait of a "Peculiar" Woman 
By FLORIDA RUFFIN RIDLEY 




LTHOUGH she had been a conspicuous 
figure in the little New England town, 
no one seems to have known Maria 
Peters very intimately, notwithstanding 
that the old house on the outskirts had 
never sheltered any others than the people from 
whom she had descended. There she lived alone 
with her children, products of New England soil 
and of the intermarriage of Indians, Negroes, 
and Caucasians. 

We knew her chiefly through seeing her at 
public meetings; she used to journey into the 
city regularly to contribute to "causes," particu- 
larly to the cause of the Negro, although she 
never seemed to identify herself with the colored 
people in any but an impersonally friendly way. 

She could not pass unnoticed ; her skin had the 
unlightened darkness that the red of the Indian 
gives the black of the Negro, and the blend of 
the three races had given strength and distinc- 
tion to her features. Her clothes were the neat, 
well-worn ones of a careful and saving New 
Englander. She evidently had a brood of chil- 
dren, for now and then one accompanied her, and 
it always seemed to be a different one. 

It is very easy, in the turmoil of a big city, to 
lose sight of even unusual figures; nevertheless 
there are always those who have time and curi- 
osity to investigate anything, and it was to 
these I had to turn for information after her 
death, which so closely followed the tragic tak- 
ing off of her youngest son. 

In her home town they had, for want of more 
discriminating judgment, called her "peculiar," 
and yet her peculiarities had won her immense 
respect. She was an accepted part of the town,— 
few could remember when she had not been 
there ; as a property holder, she exercised her 
rights and with wisdom ; in public affairs, as a 
member of the Congregational church, she was 
outstanding; as the mother of four school boys, 
she carried an air of authority, which, aug- 
mented by the dignity and reticence of her man- 
ner, was felt, even if it was not understood. 

The more I learned about her, the more fas- 
cinated I became with her singular personality; 
it took me a long time to get even the ordinary 
details of her life, for all her sons were dead and 
she had evidently had no confidant after the 
death of her husband. 

It was through an old scrap book, which was 

Page Twelve 



being thrown away when strangers were dispos- 
ing of her effects, that I got the clues which ex- 
plained her life to me; a book, the contents of 
which, at first sight, seemed to be practically 
valueless, but which took on illumination when 
interpreted in the light of the life of the woman 
and aided by many scattered "thoughts" entered 
in her awkward handwriting. 

It was necessary to make many readings of 
these notes to get the pitch by which her life 
was tuned. The instinctive repudiation of 
trammels inherited from her Indian ancestry, the 
courage and pride of the Negro forbear who 
broke his chains, the stubborn insistence upon 
"rights" of the Yankee backwoodsman, who 
broke into the family, — all these added to the 
Puritan austerity which lingered in the atmos- 
phere in which she had been reared,— had con- 
tributed to the development of a singularly com- 
plex nature. More than this: there ran 
through this intricate composition a sharp but 
golden note of idealism, an idealism created and 
nurtured by contacts with fine minds of old New 
England. 

Under the pressure of these emotions she had 
developed a passion for freedom— not only the 
freedom of the body, but freedom of the spirit. 
It is doubtful whether she ever stated this feel- 
ing in words, but the strongest evidence that 
the passion existed lay in the attitude which she 
took in regard to her "place" in life. She pro- 
tested against being designated a "Negro" and 
saddled with all the shortcomings and vices so 
carelessly and unconcernedly heaped upon those 
possessing color. She fought against these 
shackles and vowed to consecrate herself to the 
task of preserving and safe-guarding the spirit 
of her children. She evidently was convinced 
that constant humiliation and repressions, the 
forced consideration of every matter from a 
racial standpoint, did not contribute towards de- 
veloping nobility of character. 

In her comparatively withdrawn and self-cen- 
tered life, Maria Peters had worked out a phi- 
s losophy for herself and had the tenacity to stick 
to her convictions. Not only did she reject the 
word "Negro," but she kept from her children, as 
far as she was able, all printed matter that car- 
ried disparaging allusions to color. She spent 
her limited funds recklessly for good books: it 
was her idea to link her children, who had in- 



MARIA PETERS 



herited the blood of many races, with humanity 
generally. Specifically, they were Americans. 
The "stern and rock-bound coast" was their 
coast; "freedom's fruits" belonged also to them. 
She ignored contrary views on this matter and 
believed people got what they insisted upon 
getting. 

With all this, she did not quail from life. She 
was not afraid to present herself and her chil- 
dren at doors that were supposed to be closed ; 
looking straight into the eyes of those in charge, 
she called for accommodation in theatres, in 
restaurants, in concert halls,— in all places that 
were supposed to draw lines. And, for some 
reason, the lines disappeared. 

Her ideas had been born with her ; they were 
a part of her youth and were not dispelled when 
she was married. Her husband, a fine-looking 
mulatto, had come to the New England woods 
to find relief from discriminating experiences: 
Maria's thrifty forbears had gathered many acres 
of farm and woodland, and Peters had subdued 
some of his bitterness in efforts to make this in- 
heritance a financial success. Besides, his raw 
wounds were healed in the atmosphere that 
Maria had created. He died early and left Maria 
with four children and a good home, with an 
income that v/ould be small today, but which 
went a long way at that time and in that 
locality. 

I was not able to gather much information 
about the children's reaction to the mother's 
training, but it is well known that the two elder 
boys came out of the local high school popular 
with their mates, fearless, and upstanding. They 
passed from the school almost directly into the 
arms of an enlisting officer for the World War. 

Maria Peters was by this time a woman of 
over sixty. One of her four boys had died and 
the youngest was still in school. There was no 
prouder mother in America than she when her 
two boys marched off to fight "for democracy." 
She was offering all that she had for the cause 
that to her was as dear as life. x\lthough it gave 
her surprise, she did not quail when her boys 
were separated from their school comrades and 
placed, because they had dark skins, in Negro 
camps : she had tried to train them, she said, "to 
know no color difference but to be men among 
men." 

So the two eldest sons marched away, as had 
numbers of their ancestors, to fight and die for 
freedom. 

Their bodies were never sent home but the 
mother mortgaged about all she possessed to 



erect, in the graveyard of the now decaying 
country town, a shaft to the memory of her 
boys. 

Set into the stone are two protected portraits 
disclosing clearly the mixed blood of her two 
handsome sons. Underneath she has placed the 
inscription: "Blessed are they who live and die 
for a righteous cause." 

Nobody knows definitely why the younger 
boy, who had come to his maturity during the 
war, was sent on the journey that resulted in 
his death. It is generally thought that he left 
home to look up some clues of his father's early 
life. Possibly there were intimations of some 
little property descending to him. However 
that may be, Maria Peters sent her son, an in- 
experienced boy with no adequate knowledge of 
conditions, with only his manly instincts to pro- 
tect him, into an especially hostile country. To 
be sure, no ordinarily intelligent boy could have 
reached his age without some understanding of 
the restrictions and worse in the paths of those 
with dark skins, but the efforts of his mother to 
keep him from embittering and soul-crushing 
contacts had been in the main successful, and 
he set out on his errand ready to receive and 
expecting to give only friendliness. 

A clear, unbiased account of the incidents 
that led to the death of David Peters was never 
obtained, although some facts have been veri- 
fied. 

The boy had been travelling by automobile, 
and, probably out of curiosity, he had stopped, 
in this distant town, to join a crowd that was 
listening to the farewell speech of a departing 
political orator of loud voice and small caliber. 
Running short of material, the speaker was try- 
ing to make effects by throwing in some insult- 
ing references to the Negro voter. For good 
measure he let loose the full force of his vitupera- 
tion on the black women of America. 

Just exactly what he said was lost in the fierce 
excitement which followed when David Peters 
rose in his open car, and in the clear, ringing 
tones of youth, cried out, "You are a liar!" 

Maria Peters did recover the body of this son, 
riddled as it was with bullet wounds, for there 
can always be found those who respond to a 
courageous spirit. Before her death, which oc- 
curred soon afterwards, she had placed in the 
stone shaft a third portrait and a concluding in- 
scription : 

"American boys who have joined the glorious 
army of departed American patriots." 

This was the last act of a "peculiar" woman, 

Page Thirteen 



Regalia 

By HELENE JOHNSON 



Stokin' stoves, 
Emptin' garbage, 
Fillin' ash cans, 
Fixin' drain pipes, 
Washin' stairs, 
Answerin' a million calls, 
Answerin' a million bells, 
All day, half the night— 
The yassuhs, the nosuhs, 
The grins, the nods, the bowin'— 
It sure wasn't no picnic 

Bein' a janitor in a big apartment house in Harlem. 
But, say, it was better than bein' back down home 
Scrapin' to the buchra. And he made good money, too, 
With tips, now and then, for extra. His wife didn't have 
To go out to do day's work any more, and Sammy, his only child, 
Went to school and learned readin' and writin'. And he, 
Big Sam, had been able to join the local lodge. 
He would have rather gone without his vittles 
Than not pay his lodge dues, 
Than not march in the lodge parade, 
Than not wear his uniform of blue and gold and orange, 
And high white plumes and yellow braid and gold epaulets, 
And snow-white gloves and shining black shoes and tassels, 
And silk ribbons and feathers and big bright buttons and 
Color, color, color. 

God, how he loved it I He loved it better than food and drink, — 
Better than Love itself. 
Every night after work, after 
The stove stokin' 
The garbage slingin', 
The ashcan fillin', 
The stair washin', 

The yassuhs and nosuhs and the grins and nods and bowin', 
He'd go downstairs to his basement flat and put it on. 
And stand in front of his crazy old mirror and make funny 
Gestures and military signs and talk to himself and click 
His heels together and curse and swear like a major or a 
General. And always he'd be the leader, the head, and 
The others, the make-believe others, would say yassuh and nosuh, 
And grin and nod and bow. Gold and yellow and blue- 
God, how he loved it ! 

That old Rev. Giddings was a fool, telling him it was a sin 
To dress up and have music and march when somebody died. 
"God don't like that," he said. "God, He wants mourning 
And wailing and dark clothes. He don't want all that worldly 



Page Fourteen 



REGALIA 

Music and color for his dead children. He don't want all that 
Regalia. It hurts Him, Brother, it hurts Him. It's vanity, 
That's all. You don't know, Brother, that blue and gold 
You wear — the flames of Hell ; that red— the blood of His 
Crucified Son, those plumes and feathers — they mocked Christ 
With them once. God don't like that regalia, son. God don't 
Like it. I got to stay in the lodge or I'd lose my flock. 
You know that, Brother. But dress in black when I die, Brother, 
And beat your breast. I don't want no regalia." 
But Sam couldn't understand. He loved it so, that uniform. 
What had it to do with God? 

Nights when the lodge went on parade. Nights when there was 
A funeral and they had to march in a long, beautiful procession. 
His wife was proud of him, and so was Sammy, his son, 
Who wanted to be a general in the army. 
If only there might be a funeral . . . 

And then one night Rev. Giddings died 

And Sam had a chance to wear his uniform — 

His uniform of blue and gold and orange — 

And high white plumes and yellow braid and gold epaulets, 

And snow-white gloves and shining black shoes and tassels, 

And silk ribbons and feathers and big bright buttons, 

And color, color, color. 

But it was different. Reverend Giddings must have conjured him. 

He was scared. His plumes bent him over and the color before 

Him was like Hell fire. And there was Rev. Giddings 

Smiling at him. "God don't like all that regalia, Brother, 

God don't like it." The blue and gold flames leaped up 

And burned him. Red swarmed before him, banners, 

Ribbons. He saw strips of blood, streams of blood flowing 

About him — "The blood of His Crucified Son." And the music, 

The drums, the bugles — The little red devils dancing before 

His eyes — The flames lapping up the blood — Red, blue, gold. 

God, how he hated it ! 

He snatched off his plumes, tore off his colors, beat his breast. 

It was hard to make him out in all that flood of color. 

He seemed so little and tired and bent and dark and humble. 

He looked so funny, beating his breast that way. 

In fact, he looked more like the little colored janitor 

Who stoked stoves, 

And emptied garbage, 

And piled ashcans, 

And scrubbed stairs 

In a big apartment house in Harlem, 

Than anything else. 



XJ£ S^ 



Page Fifteen 



Negro Fictionist in America 

By EUGENE GORDON 




O FAR, this country has not produced 
one Negro capable of presenting a sin- 
cere picture of himself or his people." 
Thus an obiter dictum in an article 
called "Whites Writing up Blacks," 
in the Dial of January, this year. Its 
author, a white youth of twenty-five named 
Albert Halper, was, until recently, on the night 
staff of the Chicago post office: he is, therefore, 
extraordinarily qualified to criticize the Negro's 
literary effort. 

"Those [Negro] authors are forced to write 
such stuff as the book publishers will accept, or 
not write at all. The real fault is with the book 
publishers, who reject real literature which, if 
accepted and published, would startle and thrill 
the world."' That is not, as it appears to be, 
an intentional refutation of the statement made 
by Mr. Halper. It is merely the wrathful 
declaration of one E. Robert Bennett, colored, 
in the Negro press of the country. However, the 
tone of Mr. Bennett's protest indicates that he 
has perhaps more than once failed, with his 
offerings, to make impression on the calloused 
hearts of publishers. He is, therefore, extra- 
ordinarily qualified to criticize the Negro's 
literal effort. 

And I ? Oh, but I am not a critic at all ! I 
am only a reporter describing what I have ob- 
served. It chances, however, that through 
years of reading almost everything Negroes pub- 
lished, to say nothing of close personal associa- 
tion with many of the writers, I have acquired 
a fairly accurate knowledge of their accomplish- 
ments as well as a gage for their capabilities. 
My purpose herein is simply to set down cer- 
tain facts that are hardly appreciated even by 
hosts of supposedly well-read Americans. 

II 

Charles W. Chestnutt, born in Cleveland 
seventy-one years ago, was the first American 
of African strain to "make" the Atlantic 
Monthly. He did it with a series of short 
stories which quite faithfully depicted a type 
of southern Negro. A bright lad, Charles was 
a teacher of black youth in a southern public 
school at sixteen, being at the same time a 
Page Sixteen 



critical student of southern Negro customs and 
dialects. He showed, later, that he had retained 
what he there absorbed, when, in 1887, he began 
in the Atlantic those tales which Houghton, 
Mifflin and Company afterwards published as 
"The Conjure Woman" and the "Wife of His 
Youth and Other Stories of the Color Line." In 
1900 the same publishers issued Chestnutt's "The 
House Behind the Cedars"; in 1901, "The Mar- 
row of Tradition"; and in 1905, "The Colonel's 
Dream," all novels and all available now at 
most city libraries. His short stories (as well 
as his novels), although vehicles for propaganda, 
indicate his reverence of technique. Most of 
them are skilfully constructed and highly pol- 
ished, and if his characters more often limp 
than spring spontaneously into living beings, 
they nevertheless impress themselves as being 
more than mere puppets. Quite frequently they 
are authentic persons. 

Of his three novels, "The House Behind the 
Cedars" is undoubtedly best. Dealing wholly 
with white and black of the post-Civil-War 
period, the story is encumbered in its prog- 
ress by devious bypaths into special pleading, 
and what might have been an artistic achieve- 
ment becomes a fairly interesting propagandic 
tract. The Negro of fiction was antithetical of 
the Negro of actuality. Indubitably, he was too 
angelic to be authentic. He was as much lack- 
ing in authenticity as were the immaculately 
conceived colonels and ladies of Thomas Nel- 
son Page's and George W. Cable's books, They 
all were overburdened toward the side of vir- 
tue. 

Paul Laurence Dunbar succeeded Chestnutt 
as a fictionist, but there is neither uniqueness 
of theme nor distinction of treatment in this 
excellent poet's prose. His tales are common- 
place narratives, ordinarily and, often, uninter- 
estingly told. His characters remain simply 
characters, never emerging from the chrysalis 
of the printed word. Malindy, in that superb 
dialect poem, "When Malindy Sings," the maiden 
in "Mandy Lou," and the ensemble of "The 
Party," are far more real to me than any char- 
acter I have encountered in Dunbar's prose 
stories. But these folks are real: they possess 
the very sincerity of humanness which the Dial 



NEGRO FICTIONISTS IN AMERICA 

critic deplored as being totally absent from Cecil Blue. Most of these are youthful new- 
Negro writings. comers, the majority of them having emerged 

The people of W. E. Burghardt Du Bois's through the medium of short-story contests con- 

"The Quest of the Silver Fleece," the next Negro ducted by Opportunity : Journal of Negro Life 

novel of consequence to follow Dunbar's, are and the Crisis, and through the general invita- 

hardly less cold symbols than the poet's. Du tion broadcast by the new feature section of 

Bois had undeniably contributed genuine litera- more than a dozen Negro weeklies. Many of 

ture to America in "The Souls of Black Folk," these names are never seen outside Negro pub- 

a collection of essays and sketches, but when lications, but in this sphere they hold potent 

he turned novelist in 1911 he disappointed many charm for thousands. Possessing the vitality 

hearty admirers. The economic status of the of youth as well as youth's point of view, and 

Negro farmer, the subsidizing of certain Negro being wholly familiar with stort-story technique 

schools, and Negro social life in Washington, as well as their subject, these writers are suc- 

were and are subjects of fictional importance, cessful in a limited sense, 

but Du Bois was not the man for the job. As Walter White's "The Fire in the Flint" is the 

an essayist he was moving. He was effective story of a southern tragedy involving an edu- 

in his sketches. But as a novelist he was stilted, cated Negro family ; the elder son, a recent grad- 

affected, self-conscious, and artificial. His char- uate of a northern medical school, begins prac- 

acters were images who bore the names of per- tice in hostile surroundings, and is subsequently 

sons. True, the author said that these images defeated. "Flight" relates the oft-repeated tale 

entertained certain thoughts and performed cer- of the near-white (or near-"black") woman 

tain acts, but he gave his assertion no support who passes nonchalantly back and forth across 

other than his word, and that was not enough, the color line, finally resolving upon the nether 

Nothing in the characters' conduct indicated side as the more attractive, 

their superiority above marionettes in a puppet For its delineation of character, "Flight" is 

show. more successful than "Fire in the Flint." It is 

On the other hand, Du Bois's "The Souls of a more artistically rendered piece of work. There 

Black Folk" had presented some human beings is less biased propaganda here: the story in its 

who truly had souls. They were as much alive, very unfolding resolves itself into a more subtle 

as sincerely authentic, as their antetypes of the and, hence, a more effective, preachment than 

southern fields. the other book affords in all its vociferous shout- 
ing. Not that "Fire in the Flint" is not sincere 

jjj enough as a picture of one Negro: it is sincere 

but not accurate. The hero is too heroic and 

Since the World War seven or eight new the villain too villainous. There is no leaven 

Negro novelists have appeared, among them be- of deviltry in the one or of godliness in the 

ing Walter White, with "Fire in the Flint" and other. The veriest cutthroat knave may slobber 

"Flight" ; Joshua H. Jones, Jr., with "By sentimentally over a bruised flower, as we know, 

Sanction of Law"; Jessie Fauset, with "There while a Sir Galahad may often brood over a 

is Confusion" and "Plum Bun"; Claude Mc- secret sin. Did not Jesus lose His temper and 

Kay, with "Home to Harlem" and "Banjo"; commit assault and battery in the temple? 

Nella Larsen, "Quicksand" ; and Rudolph Fisher, The style of "The Fire in the Flint" is sim- 

with "The Walls of Jericho." Du Bois has ilar to an investigator's bald report of an un- 

recently returned with a novel called "The Dark healthy social state. Walter White has gone fre- 

Princess," a tale far superior to "The Quest of quently into the South to pry into causes of 

the Silver Fleece" as a piece of workmanship, lynchings. This is his job, as a member of the 

and far more significant as a social document. National Association for the Advancement of 

And even as I write, "The Blacker the Berry," Colored People. I have read many of his official 

by Wallace Thurman, perhaps the youngest of reports, and it has seemed to me that most of 

these fictionists, comes to my desk. them are as fully alive as his first novel was : a 

Some current short story writers who may not recital of bare, unattractive, monstrous facts, 

be ignored are Rudolph Fisher, Eric Waldron, unrelieved by any artistic embellishment. 

Jean Toomer, Dorothy West, Gertrude Schalk, "Flight" showed improvement. There was 

Zora Neale Hurston, Arthur Huff Fauset, John here an obvious attempt to be literary, an at- 

Matheus, John P. Davis, Langston Hughes, and tempt which did not, oddly, injure the story. 

Page Seventeen 



THE SATURDAY EVENING QUILL 

Like the other one, this, too, presents a sincere, Representing the lowest stratum of Harlem, 
if somewhat distorted, picture of certain kinds of the denizens of this tale are human beings, not- 
colored Americans. Until some writer succeeds, withstanding their occasional incomprehensible 
after long years and diligent study, in giving us behavior and their speaking a tongue the like of 
a composite portrait of the American Negro, which no human ear has heard. The story, 
North South, East and West,— a Negro who is briefly, concerns an American Negro who, de- 
at once literate and illiterate, sophisticated and serting the A. E. F. in France, comes home, 
naive, cultured and uncultured,— we need not settles again into the cesspool from which the 
expect to encounter a genuine picture of the draft had jerked him, and resumes his ad- 
Negro. There is no such creature, if we are to ventures in lovemaking. 

take "the Negro" to mean an individual that McKay's pictures of certain kinds of Negroes 

embodies all the attributes of more than twelve are almost photographic in their accuracy, but 

million separate organisims. the situations in which these Negroes are fre- 

"Plum Bun" is Jessie Fauset's latest novel, quently cast are artificial and incredible. One 
I have seen it only briefly and have not, there- feels that the author, after creating his men and 
fore, had time to read it. An English house first women, did not know what to set them to doing ; 
published it. It has recently been brought out that, instead of loosing them into their natural 
in this country by Stokes. I hope it is more habitat and allowing them naturally to make 
nearly finished in its character portrayal and situations in accord with their characters and 
in its approach toward authenticity with respect temperaments (inevitable consequences of their 
to actual life, than "There is Confusion" was. being who they were), he laboriously invented 
Those who have read it assure me that it is. situations and hurled his people, like toys, into 
The chief weakness of the latter story is, to me, them. So we come upon two naked black 
its immobility. For instance, the characters women fighting like female dogs in a Harlem 
carry on colloquies, rather than conversations, backyard; we meet men and women who, al- 
They suggest amateur players reciting a hard- though they are unmistakably of the menial 
learned dialogue,— reciting it without having class, never work: they perpetually make love, 
sensed fully the spirit of it. I believe that largely while they pass from one degree of alcoholic 
because of this weakness the story remains stupefaction to another. And so on. More- 
static, over, Mr. McKay's dialect strikes the American 

"By Sanction of Law," by Joshua H. Jones, reader as false. It is false. No American-born 
Jr., presents an instance of a story's beginning Negro, for instance, says "this a-night" for "to- 
most promisingly and ending most wretchedly, night." Some West Indians, however, do. Mc- 
Weaknesses become apparent long before the Kay has been abroad so long that he has con- 
end comes in sight, however. "By Sanction of fused in his memory the dialect of the Negro 
Law" tells the story of a Negro youth, in the from the southern states with that of illiterate 
South, who loves a white girl. After much Jamaican blacks. The result is a painful in- 
tribulation they get married. It is thereupon congruity. On the other hand, this author's 
discovered that the girl is not white but colored, pictures of certain aspects of Harlem life are 
The book, ending thus promptly, loses all point, not only sincere but authentic. At times he 
sense, and reason for having been written. Asked traps the flavor and the color and the odor of 
why he did not follow his idea to a logical con- Harlem's cabarets and her teeming horde of 
elusion and have the black youth married to the flat dwellers, and he successfully transmits these 
white girl, Mr. Jones told me that he discovered, elusive ingredients to the book. This being 
at the last moment, that he couldn't. The couple true, the faults I have pointed out become in- 
could not have been legally married in the consequential to the mind of the casual reader. 
South! There was nothing else to do then, he Looking for bare entertainment, he finds it in 
said, than suddenly to inflict upon the proud "Home to Harlem." 

nordic an African ancestry! The book is thor- Nella Larsen in "Quicksand" writes beauti- 

oughly ruined,— that is, that portion of it which fully at first ; later, she apparently loses all 

was not previously ruined by slipshod writing sense of beauty of style, and her work reveals 

and impossible situations. her as being rather wearied with her task. Some- 

A criticism similar to the one made of Miss what beyond the middle of her book, Miss Lar- 

Fauset's "There is Confusion" could never be sen apparently made no effort to maintain the 

made of Claude McKay's "Home to Harlem." attractive style of the beginning. Thencefor- 
Page Eighteen 



NEGRO FICTIONISTS IN AMERICA 



ward the tale limps like a tired freshman's Eng- 
lish composition. Helga Crane, the central char- 
acter of "Quicksand," is quite real at times. 
Until she perversely does a most unhuman 
thing, she is consistently the kind of human being 
most of us know,— ordinary, given to petty spites 
and silly contradictions. Such inconsistencies 
as she evinces in the earlier portion of the book 
are promptly forgiven, for they are consistently 
feminine. 

My criticism must not imply a denial of 
Helga Crane's authenticity nor even a refusal 
to accept her as an excellent character of fiction ; 
my criticism is for Helga's creator, who forgot 
to indicate in some way that Helga Crane's 
temperament was such as to impel her into com- 
mitting unhuman acts. Helga, incidentally, is 
the only flesh and blood in the book ; yet, being 
thus wracked with major inconsistencies, she 
may cause one to have reasonable doubt whether 
one has ever met or will ever meet her kind. 
If she were supposed to be a psychopath I should 
accept her as at least authentic. But she is not. 
No, I cannot accept her, despite her flesh and 
blood and some genuinely human impulses. 

Rudolph Fisher writes a light, half-humorous 
novel in "The Walls of Jericho," and he creates 
some men and women who are not only sincere 
but who do things quite in accord with their 
several characters and temperaments. One can 
accept Linda and Jinx and Bubber and Slim 
without injury to one's commonsense. "Home 
to Harlem" is more freighted with propaganda 
than either "The Walls of Jericho" or "Quick- 
sand." Preachment against wrongs frequently 
obscures the progress of the story's theme. I 
am not here railing against propaganda either 
in art or. as art. In "Quicksand" and "The 
Walls of Jericho" propaganda is sensed but 
sensed as being inherent in the treatment of 
the work. To that extent, I believe, both Miss 
Larsen and Mr. Fisher come nearer to real ar- 
tistic accomplishment than Mr. McKay. Mr. 
Fisher, being generally a better craftsman, ap- 
proaches nearer that ideal than Miss Larsen. 



f IV 

Of the short story writers that have appeared 
since the war, only a few are known to maga- 
zines of general circulation. Rudolph Fisher 
has published in the Atlantic Monthly several 
times. "The City of Refuge," probably the best 
story yet written about the black immigrant 
fr n the South shortly after the armistice, was 



reprinted in O'Brien's "Best Short Stories of 
1925." Fisher's stories have appeared also in 
McClure's magazine. Jean Toomer is seldom 
thought of as a Negro writer, although his 
stories in the past have dealt principally with 
Negro themes. His attitude is so detached that 
the story projects itself cameo-like without in- 
trusion of the author's figure in the background. 
Interest in the story is not stimulated by special 
pleadings, but by its inherent power to attract 
and to hold attention as a piece of fiction. Hav- 
ing finished the tale, the reader finds himself 
suddenly thinking about the unfortunates of 
whom Toomer has dispassionately told. 

Toomer belongs to that group of experi- 
mentalists which, following the war, published 
in the Little Review, Broom and Prairie. He is 
not, blatantly, a race propagandist. Indeed, his 
most recent work, short stories in the Dial and 
in the Second American Caravan, is not about 
Negroes at all. More than any other Negro 
writer in America, he is internationally minded. 
"Cane," a book of sketches, short stories, and 
poems, is strongly racial, but Toomer 's treat- 
ment of his subject is one of impersonal de- 
tachment. 

Eric Waldron completes the circle of colored 
writers whose short stories appear frequently 
in well-known magazines. Objective like 
Toomer's, Waldron's stories are concerned 
chiefly with the West Indian Negro. They are 
technically good, usually brief, and frequently 
laden with the tang of tropic seas. 

Dorothy West, John Matheus, Gertrude 
Schalk, Zora Neale Hurston, Arthur Huff 
Fauset, John P. Davis, and Cecil Blue emerged 
into recognition through literary contests con- 
ducted by Opportunity, the Urban League maga- 
zine. Langston Hughes, already noted as a 
poet, was introduced as a short story writer by 
the Messenger, later the organ of the Brother- 
hood of Sleeping Car Porters. Aubrey Bowser, 
Roscoe Wright, and a few others who are not 
so well known, are products of the Negro weekly 
press. Each of these writers is quite capable, 
some, naturally, more than others; yet none of 
them has had a story published in a periodical 
of general circulation. 

The reason lies in the limited appeal of their 
product. What they write is undoubtedly good, 
measured by current standards of technique 
and style, but it is too narrowly racial to interest 
the mass of American fiction readers. These 
writers are confined, therefore, to contributing 
to such Negro publications as Opportunity, the 

Page Nineteen 



THE SATURDAY EVENING QUILL 



Crisis, and the weekly pictorial section of the 
Afro-American press. This limitation does not, 
however, deny them the attention of anthologists. 
Fauset's "Symphonesque," published in Oppor- 
tunity as winner of the first prize in the short 
story contest of 1926, was republished both in 
O'Brien's "Best Short Stories of 1926" and in 
the "O. Henry Memorial Award Prize Stories 
of 1926." Stories by Dorothy West and Ger- 
trude Schalk have appeared for years among the 
"tabloid" tales distributed by the Wheeler 
Syndicate, Inc., to scores of daily and weekly 
papers throughout the country. Moreover, 
stories by Schalk, West, Hurston, Matheus, 
Davis, and Blue have been listed, from time to 
time, in the "rolls of honor" that are a part 
of short-fiction anthologies. Occasional Negro 
periodicals, issued by independent groups of 
non-professional writers, are the Saturday Eve- 
ning Quill, of Boston, Fire, and Harlem, of New 
York, Black Opals, of Philadelphia, and the 
Stylus, of Washington. Some of the fiction 
in these publications is often noteworthy because 
of its technical excellence as well as for its 
fresh point of view. 



The Illustrated Feature Section of the Negro 
press, formerly edited by George S. Schuyler, 
once managing editor of the Messenger and still 
a frequent contributor to such reviews as the 
American Mercury and the American Parade, 
has sent out the following "Instructions for Con- 
tributors" : 

Every manuscript submitted must be 
written in each-sentence-a-paragraph style. 

Stories must be full of human interest. 
Short, simple words. No attempt to parade 
erudition to the bewilderment of the reader. 
No colloquialisms such as "nigger," "dar- 
key," "coon," etc. Plenty of dialogue, and 
language that is realistic. 

We will not accept any stories that are 
depressing, saddening, or gloomy. Our 
people have enough troubles without read- 
ing about any. We want them to be inter- 
ested, cheered, and buoyed up; comforted, 
gladdened, and made to laugh. 

Nothing that casts the least reflection on 
contemporary moral or sex standards will 
be allowed. Keep away from the erotic! 
Contributions must be clean and whole- 
some. 

Everything must be written in that in- 

Page Twenty 



timate manner that wins the reader's con- 
fidence at once and makes him or her feel 
that what is written is being spoken exclu- 
sively to that particular reader. 

No attempt should be made to be 
obviously artistic. Be artistic, of course, 
but "put it over" on the reader so he or she 
will be unaware of it. 

Stories must be swiftly moving, gripping 
the interest and sweeping on to a climax. 
The heroine should always be beautiful and 
desirable, sincere and virtuous. The hero 
should be of the he-man type, but not stiff, 
stereotyped, or vulgar. The villain should 
obviously be a villain and of the deepest- 
dyed variety: crafty, unscrupulous, suave, 
and resourceful. Above all, however, these 
characters must live and breathe, and be 
just ordinary folks such as the reader has 
met. The heroine should be of the brown- 
skin type. 

All matter should deal exclusively with 
Negro life. Nothing will be permitted that 
is likely to engender ill feeling between 
blacks and whites. The color problem is 
bad enough without adding any fuel to the 
fire. 

Possibly it was reaction to the Octavus Roy 
Cohen type of tale, on the one hand, and to the 
Thomas Dixon type, on the other, that made 
Negro fictionists, until recently, busy them- 
selves with damning to perdition all skins that 
could not be classified as brown or black. Every 
story contained at least one white villain, and 
he was rotten all over and right through the 
middle. The hero was bronze or black, and 
godly virtue oozed from his manly pores. Right, 
of course, always triumphed, and black was al- 
ways right. But now the situation is different, 
as Mr. Schuyler's "Instructions for Contributors" 
indicate. However, Mr. Schuyler, after all, 
spoke only for the Illustrated Feature Section, 
and the change I refer to was evident long be- 
fore that weekly magazine was dreamed of. 
(Mr. Schuyler, by the way, is no longer the 
editor.) 

The change was first evident at about the 
time Van Vechten published "Nigger Heaven." 
Negro writers, sensing the trend of white pub- 
lishers toward a favorable reception of the long- 
ignored black, became rivals of the Caucasians 
who were then getting rich "interpreting" Har- 
lem and its underworld. Fisher "interpreted" 
for the Atlantic and McClure's, and Eric Wal- 



WORSHIP 



dron for one or two other periodicals. In the who calls himself a short-story writer can "inter- 



meantime groups of colored scriveners, less 
skilled at this particular kind of "interpretation," 
decided to turn their pens to other phases of 
Negro life. But they were ignored by the very 
magazines that gave ear to Fisher, Waldron, 
Cohen, Cobb, and others like these. "Give us 
Harlem or nothing," insisted the magazine edi- 
tors. And although many strove mightily, fail- 
ure stalked them. It seems that not every Negro 



pret" Harlem to the satisfaction of those who are 
willing to pay enormously for the right "interpre- 
tation." The editor, not the author, is the judge 
of which "interpretation" is the right one. 

And perhaps that is why, "So far, this coun- 
try has not produced one Negro capable of 
presenting a sincere picture of himself or his 
people." Except, I should add, in such places 
as are hereinbefore pointed out. 



Worship 



I want to worship God, 

And so I go to church. There is a church two blocks down 

Between the baker's and the new hospital. 

I enter and kneel down on the prayer mat to pray. 

But no prayer comes. I am not good. I am a sinner. 

I am alone in the House of God and cannot think of God. 

It is so strange in here, and close and dead. 

I will not stay any longer. I will not wait any longer for God. 

I draw on my glove and rush out into the street. 

There I I am free. Here is Beauty, cold, white, clean. 

Soft snow wets my cheeks. I want to worship God. 

Is not this devotion? Is not this worship? 

I worship God's gift, Nature : 

Do I not thus worship Him— the Giver? 

I pass a beggar woman and empty my purse in her lap. 

Her eyes grow bright. There is a sort of worship in her eyes— 

"Beautiful gold — smooth, warm, beautiful." 

She polishes the money with her breath. I leave her there 

Worshipping my gift, gold, with no thought for me, the Giver. 

The trees are like white holyroods, wind-riven, 

As I turn and blindly make my way back to the church. 

I want to worship God. 

Helene Johnson. 



In Winter 

The sky is blue, 

The clouds are white and heavy 

The air is pungent, and 

Winds are strong, in winter. 

The hills are covered with ice, 

The nights are tranquil, 

The mornings shiver, in winter. 

Grace Vera Postles. 



Page Twenty-one 



Predestination 

J want to live. 

Dark pitfalls all about me 

Close their black depths where'er my wanderings lead; 

My feet are guided by an unseen force 

O'er paths I would avoid for strangely treacherous ways. 

I want to see. 

Stark drama all about me 

Finds no respondent note within the chaos of my soul ; 

My eyes are drawn by some magnetic power 

To a mirage of weird ethereal pictures. 

Alvira Hazzarb. 



To My Grandmother 

Past beauty on a withering stem 
With hands like wilting petals 
Folded in languid repose. 

Today, vivacity and mischief 

Are memories in your dimming eyes 

Challenging the future. 

Throughout those years to come, 

I shall seek often 

In the pregnant meadows of my soul 

For renewed courage and unerring zeal; 

The seedlings of your example. 

Alvira Hazzard. 



Beyond 



Down a steep pathway 

Stygian black 

Past fettered shapes whose gnashing teeth 

Flash feeble sparks of fire. 

Yet, I do not fear to tread the way alone 

Fleeing a world of ceaseless, aimless din; 

My way is charted. 

But mark the fate of yonder dove, 
Who, with a mating call, 
Plunges in dizzy ecstasy 
Past me, 
To its doom. 

Alvira Hazzard, 



Page Twenty-two 



« 2K 

Rustic Fantasy 

The goat's milk is sweeter. 

The white bellied frog 

Forsakes the water and its tail for land. 

The wild sow and her shoats 

Make defloration of the forest fruits. 

A roebuck leads a troop of fallow deer 

To a fragrant field of clover. 

Despite the marten, 

The mole ejects her young, 

Is anchoret again in snug seclusion. 

Hermes rests beneath the cool shade of a date tree 

His lips thirsty for an open gourd. 

The bees are warm with honey . . . 

Helene Johnson. 



Destruction 

1 saw a gem of gleaming red, 
With pulsing, shimmering sheen. 
This shall be mine, I proudly said, 
Who wears this, is a queen. 
With avid hand I clasped it tight, 
Guarding it as I felt I must. 
But, when I held it to the light, 
Desire had crushed my gem to dust! 

Alice E. Furlong. 



"Railway Club" 

For Muriel 

Black men, like the bark of a tree, 

Women 

Pale as day, 

Brown boys, darker than earth's red clay, 

Golden night-girls, 

Yellow as the moon — 

And the throbbing pain 

In a laughing jazz trio's tune . . . 

Oh, earth has a savor of salt and wine. 
Great God Jazz, be kind, be kind! 

Waring Cuney. 



Page Twenty-three 




"Hello, is that you, Lee? 
Delia speaking." 



Page Twenty-four 



The Girl From Back Home 

A One-Act Drama of Negro Life 



By RALF M. COLEMAN 



CHARACTERS 

Henry "Jazz" Barrett Numbers "banker" and man about town 

Della Harvey The girl 

Dr. Lee Minor Also from "back home" 

TIME : The present 

SCENE: Barrett's flat, in Harlem 
("Right" and "Left" refer to the actors' right and left.) 

Living room, comfortably furnished. Victrola, table, center ; fiat 
topped desk with telephone, papers, etc., up left side. Two doors 
right ; upper, bath room, lower, bedroom. One door down left. Win- 
dow center, back. As curtain rises Della is discovered, with negli- 
gee thrown carelessly around her, hastily packing suitcase. She 
glances ever so often at door, left, and at wrist watch. Packs last 
few things, goes into bedroom down right and appears immediately 
dressed for street. Sits at desk up left, writes note, addresses it, 
places it in upright position on desk. Takes handbag and suitcase, 
and with last look around, starts for exit down left. As she gets 
center stage, she stops in horror as key grates in lock and the door 
she is about to exit from slowly opens. Della looks around in confu- 
sion, as if for a place to hide. "Jazz" Barrett enters. He is about 35, 
tall, well dressed and good looking, but his face is hard and 
cruel and betrays his selfish, conceited nature. There is an awk- 
ward silence for a moment, during which they eye each other. 



Jazz (quietly, as he advances to center). 
Goin' away? 

Della (in confusion). Er — er — No.— (Catch- 
ing herself.) I mean — Yes. 

Jazz (as if he hadn't heard) — Beg pardon? 

Della (more firmly). I said — yes. 

Jazz (calmly). Taking French leave? (He 
puts hat on table.) 

Della (bursting out). No, dear — I — I was 
going to run by the club and tell you. I'm just 
running over to Newark for a few days. I called 
up Margie and she's terribly sick— wants me to 
come right over and look out for things. (Looks 
searchingly at him.) Really, dear. (Setting down 
suitcase and taking note from desk.) See— I 



wrote you a note— but you won't need it now. 
(Puts note in handbag and goes to Jazz and puts 
arms around his neck.) How is it you're home 
so early, dear? Thought you were going to Jer- 
sey City. 

Jazz (looking straight into her eyes). I've 
changed my plans— got to wait for a 'phone call. 
(Slowly.) I didn't know Margie was even sick. 

Della. I didn't, either, dear. But you know 
we haven't seen her for days, so I just thought 
I'd call. Lucky I did, poor kid. She's pretty sick. 

Jazz (seemingly reassured). That's tough. 
I'll drive over for you later on. Got a big deal 
on tonight, and I've got to meet Slim Henders 
at the Ebony Club in five minutes. 

Page Twenty-five 



THE SATURDAY EVENING QUILL 



(Jazz looks at watch and goes to desk, picking 
up a jew papers. Delia glances at her watch and 
then watches Jazz for a moment.) 

Della (earnestly). Listen, Jazz-boy. When 
are we going to be married? 

Jazz (coming down center, with half inter- 
ested laugh). Married? Say, what the hell ! — 
Is that thing eatin' you again ? You've got every- 
thing that money kin buy. Ain't 'cher ? Clothes, 
automobile, jewelry— and ain't Jazz Barrett 
looking out for you? Ain't that enough? Mar- 
ried? People don't bother about that in New 
York. Forget it! 

Della (hurt). It's been a— a— year, now, 
Jazz, and I— I— 

Jazz (pulling her roughly to him and kissing 
her). There— there, kid. You know I'm crazy 
'bout you— and that's a whole lot. Why, every 
gal in New York envies you. When you pass 
along the street in that swell roadster, they all 
nudge each other and says, "There's Jazz Bar- 
rett's gal— Ain't she the lucky dog ! " (Pats her). 
You ain't got nuthin' to worry about, kid. I've 
taken care of you for over a year— that's as 
good as being married— ain't it? (Kisses her). 
There. I'm goin' to run along. Might not get 
over for you at Margies 'till late, but I'll be 
there. (Taking hat.) If a call comes for me 
tell 'em I'm over at the Ebony. (Puts on hat 
and crosses to door down left.) 

Della (running to him). Jazz dear — 'er — 
won't it be too late for you to drive over for me ? 
You'll be awfully tired, too. 

Jazz (watching her). Oh, I don't mind. 

Della. All right. (Kisses him.) Goodby. 

Jazz (slowly). 'Er— goodby, kid. 

(He looks at her a moment, then exits quickly. 
Delia leans against door, thinking deeply. Sud- 
denly seems to remember, looks at watch, takes 
note from bag, places it upright on desk and exits 
hurriedly, left, leaving handbag on table and 
putting out lights. A moment later the door 
opens and Jazz reenters. He snaps on lights, 
goes into rooms, looking around. Coming out, he 
sees note on desk.) 

Jazz (reading note.) "Dear Jazz-boy: I can't 
stand it any longer. I'm going far away from it 
all. I've got to do it. With Milly Danvers and 
all the other women— you won't miss me. Please 
let me go, and wish me luck, as I do you with 
all my heart. Goodby forever— Dell." (Bit- 
terly.) Just what I thought— Damn her. 
(Laughs.) There's a good joke on Jazz Barrett 
—a woman throws him over. Never been heard 
of before. I generally do all the throwing. 

Page Twenty-six 



(More seriously.) She can't do that to me. 
(Throws hat on table. Sees purse and his face 
lights up as he takes it and starts to examine 
contents. 'Phone rings.) 

Jazz (at 'phone). Hello— hello. Yes, Jazz Bar- 
rett speaking. Oh, hello, Spike. What's up? 
Good! Forty cases. No, don't give him a cent 
more. Any hits today? What! Let them try 
and collect. Listen. Dell just gave me the air. 
Can you imagine it!— Well off and didn't know 
it. Sure. Say, but you know can't no one wom- 
an hold me down. (Laughs.) How's Julia? 
Tell her I'll see her tonight. She'll be glad to 
hear the good news— so will Milly. What? 
Sure, I was out with Milly the other night. 
What about it? Oh, he is, is he? Ha— ha! 
Milly's husband, Jim Danvers, looking for me 
with a gun! Say, that's a hot one. She's some 
kid, and with a husband like that, no wonder she 
wants a real man once in a while. Sure, he 
owes me two hundred bucks and needs more. I'll 
give him another loan and he'll forget it. Money 
talks, eh? Who, Della? Sure, I guess she's gone 
for good. Hope so. I've been trying to give 
her the air for a long time. Oh, I'm not worry- 
ing. You know me. Well, I'm going over to the 
Ebony. Say, they've put some new dicks on 
the force, so keep your eye open. See you later, 
Spike. So long. (Hangs up receiver and sits back, 
looking at purse and envelope. Speaks bitterly.) 
Only I'd like to have the chance to make up with 
her and then throw her over. The dirty little 
quitter. 

(Noise of steps heard outside. Jazz, taking 
purse, walks quickly across room to door down 
left, snapping out lights and standing behind door 
so as to be unseen when it opens. Della enters 
quickly, leaving door open. Light from hall 
streams in. She looks around, breaths sigh of 
relief, and goes to table, feeling for purse.) 

Della (softly). Why, I'm sure— I must have 
left it here. Oh, I haven't got a moment to lose ! 
Where ?- 

(Jazz slowly closes the door, shutting off 
light, and stands against it.) 

Della (with scream). Oh!— Who are you? 
Who is it? 

Jazz (quietly snapping on lights). Are you 
looking for something? 

Della (trying to conceal her surprise). Why 
—yes— Jazz— My, you frightened me ! Yes, I've 
—I've lost my handbag. 

Jazz (holding it out). This one? 

Della (eagerly going to him). Why, yes, 
dear. Why, where— 



THE GIRL FROM BACK HOME 



Jazz (throwing purse on desk and seizing her 
with both hands, hisses). You dirty little quit- 
ter I Thought you could double cross the Kid, 
eh? After all I've done for you! (Sneeringly.) 
Just going over to Margie's for a few days, and if 
you hadn't forgot your purse, I'd never seen you 
you again. (Seizing her by the throat.) Tryin' 
to make a fool out of Jazz Barrett, eh ? I'll kill 
you for this! 

Della (choking). Please ! —Jazz, for— God's 
—sake— don't ! 

Jazz (releasing her) No— No— I want to 
know a few things first. (More quietly.) Who's 
the bimbo you're running away with? Tom 
Hally? 

Della (sobbing). No— no. Not Tom. 

Jazz. Then who the hell is it ? 

Della (to herself). I guess it's all off. I 
wouldn't been happy nohow. It's all up— 

Jazz (savagely). You're damn right it's all up, 
and if you don't come clean (leaning toward 
her) I'll break your neck ! 

Della (hopelessly). All right— all right. 
(Sits in chair down center.) 

Jazz (pulling one up beside her). Well, shoot! 

Della (nervously). I don't know where to be- 
gin, now you're listening. I've tried a thousand 
times to tell you— and now you're listening, I 
can't remember a word— I— 

Jazz (cutting in). This hadn't better be no 
framed up story. 

Della. It's going to be the God's truth, Jazz. 
(Pauses.) Every time I asked you to marry me 
you laughed— just as if it was a joke. I was a 
decent girl once, back home. Maybe you 
don't believe me, but I was. And I had ideals 
once. Wanted to be a wife— a real one— with a 
home and kids— legitimate ones. See? (Looks 
closely at him.) Oh, I know I don't deserve it 
now,— cause— cause I ain't nothin now. But I 
had planned things different, Jazz. When I 
came here to Aunty from back home I was good 
—I was— er— er 

Jazz (roughly). Aw, you can't blame me for 
starting you wrong— 

Della. I know it wasn't you. Aunty died 
and I just drifted into bad company. But I 
wanted life — lights — gayety — fun ! (Sobs.) 
Things had been so tough— so dark and still 
back home, and I wanted to play enough to make 
up for it— and forget. (Pleadingly.) But I— 
but I didn't go the limit, Jazz. I— I— I stayed 
good till— 'till I met you— 

Jazz (hotly). What! 

Della. Honest to God. 



Jazz. That's a lie ! Why, you were Sam Con- 
nor's gal before I took you away from him, 
and— 

Della. Yes, I know, but— 

Jazz. And Hip Brown's before that, and— 

Della (with spirit). Yes, and a dozen oth- 
ers' before him. (More quietly.) But I never 
really fell for them, Jazz. That's why I kept 
giving them the air. 

Jazz. 'Aw, a lot of boloney. 

Della. Oh, I wish it was— but it's the God's 
truth, Jazz. 

Jazz (impatiently). Well, go on. 

Della. When we first started together I was 
as happy as I could be. I knew you were a big 
sport— had plenty of good looks and money, and 
that all the women were crazy about you. I 
knew, too, that you weren't a one-woman man. 
But you seemed to care so much for me that I 
was foolish enough to believe that I could change 
your ways. (More softly.) I hear all about your 
escapades— affairs— Julia Harris, Wenda Davis, 
even Margie, and Milly Danvers. I've been 
afraid, too, that some day you'd get into a lot 
of trouble with the men— Like Milly's husband, 
Jim Danvers. He's a bad actor when he's liquored 
up. But I'm not naturally jealous, and so long 
as you did everything for me I ought to feel 
pretty lucky. And it did flatter me to know you 
didn't want me to know about them, and didn't 
openly flaunt them in my face. But I felt, too, 
that if you married me I'd have a right to say 
something then. (Slower.) But I saw you didn't 
have no intentions of marrying me— and I 
couldn't help but worry. I'd been brought up 
different, and I can't do like these New York 
girls— and like it. (Softly.) Then, too, I— I 
thought— suppose something should happen. 
(Hides face in hands.) God, I'd rather die than 
become the mother of a nameless child. (She 
sobs.) 

Jazz (uneasily). 'Aw— that ain't nothin'. Hap- 
pens every day. 

Della (with spirit). But it'll never happen 
to me, Jazz. That's why I started thinking 
about going away. (Dropping her voice.) And 
then I— I met Lee. 

Jazz. Lee? Lee Johnson? 

Della. No, Lee Minor. You don't know 
him. He was an old sweetheart of mine back 
home. We grew up together, and all our folks 
knew each other, and everybody in Clover 
thought we were going to be married. Well, I 
just up and went away— and didn't write back 
or anything, and I was hoping he would forget 

Page Twenty-seven 



THE SATURDAY EVENING QUILL 

me. (Sadly.) And marry some one else. But speaking. Yes— yes— I know. I'm sorry, but 

he didn't— and he came way up here to New I can't go with you. No— never. I know— I 

York— looking for me. promised— But please — 

Jazz (grunts disgustly). Humph! Jazz (cutting in). Aw, tell him to go to— 

Della (continuing). He's a big doctor now— Della (raising hand). Sssh! (To 'phone.) 

back home— and he found me the other night on Listen, Lee. I've changed my mind. I'm not 

Lenox Avenue. I walked right into him— going back home with you. I can't. (Sob in 

Jazz. Last Monday night, eh ? So that's voice.) Please, don't ask me why or try any more 

where you were until after three! to see me. I'm sorry. Go back home and for- 

Della. At first I tried to hide my identity, get me. Goodbye— and good luck. (Hangs up 

but he knew me so well and seemed so glad to see receiver sharply.) 

me, that I couldn't freeze him out. So he took Jazz (pleased) Atta baby! You're showing 

me to Martin's for supper and we had a long some sense now. (Putting arms around her.) 

talk. Want to go back home and starve to death with 

Jazz (cynically). And to make a long story some hick doctor who don't know what it's all 

short, you and him planned to run back to the about? Why, you'd die of lonliness, down 

sticks together, eh? (Sneering.) How romantic! there behind the sun, for good old New York 

Della (pleading). Oh, Jazz! I didn't know and Jazz Barrett. (Brightly.) Forget it, and 

what to do. I— I do care a lot for you. I thought we'll go to Stumble Inn and celebrate, 

for a long time I really loved you. (Pause.) Della. I tell you, dear. You go out and get 

Maybe it's the life you represent— the fascination some eats— chop suey, ice cream and every- 

and all that (Determinedly.) But I couldn't thing, and we'll celebrate here— just you and 

stand for it any longer. (She bows her head.; me. 

Jazz (snapping). Couldn't stand what? Jazz (putting on hat). That suits me for to- 

Della. Not being married. (Earnestly.) I night. (Slyly.) And tomorrow I'll spring a 

want to live decent, Jazz— like respectable peo- little surprise, eh? 

pie. Have a home— husband— babies. Live Della (putting suitcase, hat, etc., in bed- 

within the law. (Sobs.) Oh, I'm sick of this room, she comes out and bustles about). Now, 

life. (Buries face in hands.) hurry, and I'll get things fixed. 

Jazz (lying). Well — well, suppose I say I'll (Jazz watches her closely with sneer, but 

marry you. when she looks up he smiles and exits left. 

Della (hardly believing her ears). Really? I When door closes behind him Della goes to desk 

don't know— but I think I'd be the happiest and looks thoughtfully at 'phone. Gives deep 

woman in the world. sigh, gets up briskly, and starts victrola. She 

Jazz (slyly). And you'll forget this bozo from goes into bedroom down right, leaving door 

back home. open. Knock is heard at door, left. Della, 

Della (jumping up— looking at watch). Oh, humming in bedroom, does not hear. Knock 

I forgot. He's waiting for me— I must go and comes louder. Della comes out, stops victrola, 

tell— and returns to bedroom. Knock comes much 

Jazz (quickly). No you don't. Where is he? louder.) 

I'll attend to him. (Takes hat.).. Della (at door arranging hair). Come in, 

Della. No, no, dear. (Pause.) Wait, I'll get dear, the door's open. (Goes back into room.) 

him on the 'phone. (Goes to desk.) (Door opens and Lee Minor enters. He is 

Jazz (lighting cigarette). Aw right, go ahead around middle age and, in direct contrast to 

and tell him it's all off and to catch the next Jazz, is conservative in dress and appearance. 

train far Bam alone. — 'Cause you're going to He has a kindly, honest face — a typical "coun- 

marry Jazz Barrett. (Under his breath.) Maybe, try gentleman!' He looks around, then hesi- 

(Loudly.) And if he keeps hanging around New tantly advances to center stage.) 

York, trying to see you, he's liable to go back in Della (from inside). Why, Jazz dear, you 

a box. certainly made time. (Comes to door, sees Lee, 

Della (at telephone). Bradhurst 2671. Yes. starts back in horror.) Why— Lee— you— here ? 

Hello— waiting room, 125th street station? Will Lee (brightly). Why, what's the big idea, 

you please page Dr. Lee Minor? Yes, Lee Dell? You didn't think you could shake me 

Minor. He must be waiting there. Thanks, as easy as that, did you? After all these weary 

(Looks at Jazz.) Hello, is that you, Lee? Delia months I've spent looking for you! I couldn't 

Page Twenty-eight 



THE GIRL FROM BACK HOME 



go back home alone. (Seeing her dismay.) 
Why, what on earth has changed you so?— 

Della (in tense whisper). For God's sake, 
Lee, how did you know where to find me? 

Lee (laughing). Easy enough. I just called 
back and asked Central the number of the 
party that called me and the rest was easy. 

Della (entreatingly). Lee, you shouldn't 
have come. I asked you not to look for me 
again. I— I can't have you here. Please- 
please go at once! 

Lee (bewildered). Come, Dell. You've got 
to give me some reason. You didn't act like 
this last time I saw you, and we arranged to 
go back home together tonight. (Pleading.) 
You'll never regret it, dear. You know I own 
my own place— cozy little farm— and I'm as 
good a farmer as a doctor. And then, too, 
I'm the only doctor in Clover, so, you see, I'll 
be able to take care of you right. You won't 
have to worry about anything. (Softer.) All 
the home folks will be tickled to death to see 
you, Dell. Just think! 

Della (hysterical). No— no, Lee! Please 
don't tempt me any more or stay here a moment 
longer. Go, for God's sake! 

Lee (looking around and seeing desk and 
man's things, puzzled). Why, I thought you 
lived here all alone. (Looking at her closely.) 
You aren't married, are you? 

Della (confused). No — er (catching her- 
self)—! mean— Yes. Yes, I am. 

Lee (surprised). Why didn't you tell me? 
(Pause.) And you were going to leave your 
husband for me? (Sternly.) Then he can't be 
treating you right! 

Della (more confused). Yes— yes, he is— 
Oh, I can't explain. He might come in any 
moment. (Looks in terror toward door, left.) 

Lee (desperately). I don't care— I know 
you're not happy, and I won't go without you. 
(Passionately.) I love you, Delia. Have al- 
ways loved you. (Forcibly taking her in his 
arms.) You promised to go back home with 
me— and you're going! 

(Door opens and Jazz enters. He has several 
large paper bags in his hands. Upon seeing him, 
Della shrinks away from Lee up stage between 
them. Lee faces Jazz.) 

Jazz (sarcastically, closing door). I've evi- 
dently messed up a party. 

Lee (politely). I beg pardon, sir. (He 
looks at Della appealingly.) 

Della (timidly). This is— Dr. Lee Minor, 
and he— er— 



Jazz (putting hat and the bags on table). 
Oh, the horse doctor from Bam, eh? 

Della (quickly to Lee). And this is— is my 
husband Henry "Jazz" Barrett. 

Jazz (in anger) . Like hell it is ! (Della hides 
her face.) 

Lee (loudly). What? 

Jazz (hotly). You heard me! I'm not her 
husband or any other woman's. (Evil leer.) 
Fact is, Mister Doctor, she's my— 

Della (screaming) . No ! No ! 

Lee (advancing to Jazz). Careful, sir. I 
love this girl, and I won't have you or anyone 
else say a word against her. 

Jazz (bitterly). Oh, is that so? Well, she's 
changed a lot since you knew her, and when I 
get through telling you what she is now, you'll — 

Lee (loudly, with face close to Jazz). You're 
not going to tell me anything, Big Boy. She's 
the same girl to me she always was, and if she's 
gone wrong, it's the fault of dirty, stinking 
yellow dogs like you, who go about like ravag- 
ing wolves corrupting and destroying the bodies 
and souls of womankind. 

Jazz (in astonishment). Well, I'll be 
damned ! 

Lee (boldly). Get your things, Delia— we're 
going back home! 

(Della hesitates a moment, then starts for 
bedroom, down right. The two men eye each 
other face to face, ready to strike.) 

Lee (loudly, fists clenched). Well, have you 
any objections? 

(Jazz eyes him a moment, then slinks back- 
ward, afraid. He goes to desk with evil look 
and sits with one leg upon it.) 

Jazz (lighting cigarette). You're welcome to 
her. 

Lee (mockingly). Thanks. 

(Della, with suitcase, etc., is ready to go. Lee 
goes to door, with hat, holding door open.) 

Della (mid stage, to Jazz). I'm glad I found 
you out before it was too late. I don't believe 
you ever intended to marry me. 

Jazz (coldly). I wouldn't marry the best 
woman on earth. 

Della (going to door). And to think I was 
such a fool. 

Jazz ( sneeringly ) . Aw, blow! I got my 
money's worth. 

(In a rage Lee rushes for him.) 

Page Twenty-nine 



THE SATURDAY EVENING QUILL 



Lee. You— ! 

Della (holding Lee back). Come, Lee, he 
isn't worth it. 

(Lee continues to glare at Jazz as Della pulls 
him toward door, and they exit left, closing 
door. Jazz watches closed door with twisted 
smile. He shrugs shoulders, saunters to chair 
and takes telephone.) 

Jazz (at 'phone). Morningside 37922. Hello! 
Hello! That you, Milly? Jazz speaking. Got 
good news— I'm free. Sure, she's gone for good. 
I had to give her the air. What you doing 
tonight? What! Afraid of your husband? 
Say, I can handle Jim Danvers. He's just try- 
ing to scare you. Sure. Better look out, he'll 
shoot himself with that gun. He's hard up- 
as usual— ain't he? I'll let him have another 
loan and he'll forget it. Sure. Don't worry— 
I'll see you tonight. Some place. O. K. 

(He hangs up receiver and leans back with a 
self-satisfied smile. Doorbell rings. He rises, 



adjusts tie, brushes self off, and goes to door 
down left. He opens it and his smile turns to 
horror as he sees the man before him, his visitor 
unseen by the audience.) 

Jazz (gulping and trying to appear uncon- 
cerned). Why— why, hello, Jim Danvers, Old 
Top. (Dry laugh.) Come for another loan? 
Sure thing. How much? (He reaches for back 
pocket, but stops half way and raises both hands 
above head, his face distorted with fear. 
Whispers hoarsely.) Why— Jim, what's the 
idea of the gat!— Be yourself! (Cowering in 
fear.) I ain't foolin' with Milly. Honest to— 

(Three metallic clicks of a silenced automatic 
ring out in rapid succession. Jazz grasps his 
chest and reels forward, closing and locking the 
door. Gasping, he leans against it, trying to 
straighten up. With great difficulty he staggers 
to desk and sinks into chair. With last desperate 
effort to reach telephone, he sprawls face for- 
ward upon desk as CURTAIN slowly descends.) 



X* 



Laurel Leaves 

Emblem that one heart has reached the ending 
Of Life's journey, perilous and steep. 
Symbol that a victor lies here, spending 
These last hours in deep, majestic sleep. 
How can this be called a badge of sorrow ? 
Who will weep, when burdens are laid down? 
Rather say, "A king goes forth tomorrow 
Who has proved his right to wear the crown." 

Alice E. Furlong. 



Possession 

A perfect crimson rose unfolds for me; 
My starving heart with ecstacy is torn; 
Eager, I reach to pluck it from Life's tree— 
My bleeding fingers grasp a piercing thorn. 

Alice E. Furlong. 



Page Thirty 



Four Poems 



By WARING CUNEY 



Nude Walker 

I walk nude along a lonely path 

And oh, the burn of winds upon my body I 

Love was a garment I wore 

Before the hands of Fate 

Cruelly stripped me naked. 

Now without the warmth 

Of a woman's love, 

I walk nude along my path. 

Oh, the burn of winds upon my body! 
Oh, the cry of winds in my lorn heart! 



On With the Dirge 

Play, O jazz band! 
The dance-girl is dead. 
(If any one asks for her 
Tell him softly 
That she has gone) . . . 
play, jazz band! 
Play a gay dirge, 
For a dead dance-girl. 



Play a Blues for Louise 

O jazz band, 

Play a blues for Louise tonight- 
Play a moanin' sob bin' song 
For a good gal 
Whose man done her wrong. 
play a blues for Louise tonight. 

She packed her trunk 
An' left dis town- 
Said she was Chicago boun'. 
Play a heart-broken song 
For a po' heart-broken gal. 
Play a blues for her. 

De ole wheels turn 

An' regret runs through her mind 

About a man who was unkind. 

O play a song of pain 

For a heart-sick gal 

On a fast, fast train. 

O play a blues for Louise tonight. 



Jazz Band 



Wild exotic music fills the air, 

A jazz band plays a loud free prayer. 

Ill | ' 
Beat your drum, drummer boy! 

Beat in the slow dawn of day. 

This is an hour of joy, 

When restless weary souls pray! 

Mad symphonic rhythm fills the air, 

Ten. jazz men bow their heads in prayer. 



££ 



Page Thirty-one 



Attic Romance 

By FLORENCE MARION HARMON 




ROWTHER was angry, beastly angry. 
Hadn't his landlady assured him that no 
one occupied the top floor in Carleton 
Chambers? Coming out of his studio 
he had encountered a girl, decidedly 
young and pretty. He had caught a fleeting 
glimpse of a piquant face and a bobbed auburn 
head. She knew how to bring out her good 
points, for she wore a vivid green linen smock. 

Crowther accorded her a rude stare, then he 
stalked back into his studio and slammed the 
door. By way of further expressing his exaspera- 
tion, he gave the chair by his door a kick that 
sent it clattering to the floor. He hoped that 
the woman in the studio next to his would find 
him too noisy and move out. He would move 
out himself if he hadn't paid a carpenter a good 
sum to build a window in the roof to admit more 
light. He had chosen this particular house be- 
cause it was out of the usual area for a studio, 
and because he could work more freely from 
interruption. Time meant everything to Crow- 
ther. It meant steadily climbing the ladder of 
success, for he had recently received several im- 
portant commissions. 

Women he had definitely put out of the pic- 
ture. When he needed them he would paint 
them in. 

Under the stimulus of his angry feelings 
Crowther worked viciously for a while. He was 
doing an expensive bon voyage box for a well- 
known candy firm. He had intended to go to 
the museum and draw a pattern of lace to line 
the cover. Tomorrow would do for that. 

Pleased with himself for the amount of work 
he had turned out, he went to bed at midnight 
and slept soundly until eight. When he awoke, the 
delicious aroma of coffee and waffles greeted his 
nostrils. He sniffed the air like a dog keen for 
a scent. Crowther had forgotten the existence 
of the green-smock girl until now. He wished 
he had some of her breakfast. After a cold 
bath, he started to go out, but as he opened 
the door the girl in the green smock deliberately 
turned her back to him while she placed some- 
thing to cool on the window ledge on the back 
stairway. Crowther was ready to go down the 
front stairs. He didn't hurry, however, but 
rather enjoyed the fact that he was making the 

Page Thirty-two 



girl wait. He noticed the shoes she had on were 
green and that she certainly had well-turned 
ankles and pretty feet. Perhaps she could be 
hired to pose for his shoe ads. He went down- 
stairs noisily. 

The girl in the green smock watched his tall 
figure as he strode arrogantly down the street. 
Her mental reservation was that John Crowther 
was a grouch. She envied him the new window, 
for she realized that the light in her studio was 
none too good. For a long time nothing was 
heard on the top floor but the carpenters finish- 
ing Crowther 's window. 

At five the girl in the green smock began to 
cook her dinner. Crowther was annoyed as the 
odor of food permeated the top of the house. It 
was too upsetting, when one had important work 
to finish. . . . He hadn't looked at his mail since 
morning. He scanned the envelopes. One was 
from a nationally known firm whose patronage 
spelled prestige with a capital. A letter for Miss 
Janet Murray. . . . 

Now, who was Janet Murray? She must be 
the girl in the next studio. Crowther realized 
that he couldn't keep her mail, so he would have 
to speak to her. He smoothed his hair and ad- 
justed his tie, then he went and knocked at 
her door which was slightly ajar. 

She greeted him with a dimpled smile, while 
her eyes plainly asked what he wanted. "Er— I 
wonder if this happens to be your mail? It got 
in with mine." Miss Janet Murray thanked 
him and murmured the usual platitudes about 
the weather. Crowther was gracious enough 
to smile back. He was especially good looking 
when he smiled. 

Back in his studio he thought she might be 
quite interesting; nevertheless, he decided not 
to be too neighborly. 

About eight he sat down to finish the candy 
box, then he remembered the lace pattern for 
the inside. 

"Hang it ail, why didn't I think of it? This 
box must be finished tonight! Wonder if the 
smock girl has some lace." 

This time it was an apologetic Crowther who 
knocked on Janet Murray's door. 

After a brief search she found some lace- 
quite a lot of it. Then she looked into a camou- 



A STUDY IN COLOR 



flaged trunk and brought up a handkerchief, a 
veritable aristocrat of lace handkerchiefs. With 
a witching smile she told him it had once be- 
longed to the Duchess of Albermarle. 

Crowther chuckled delightedly, for he knew 
it would add just the touch his box needed. Then 
he was grave again. "I must not take this," 
he said, "for you will use it yourself some day, 
Miss Murray." 

She assured him that when she got a commis- 
sion to warrant using it the pattern would 
likely be forgotten. 

It ended by Crowther's taking the handker- 
chief and inviting the girl to have dinner with 
him the next evening. 

They dined at a downtown restaurant. 
Crowther noticed, as he helped her remove her 
coat, how charming she looked in filmy gray. 
She was not too sophisticated to enjoy a quiet 
meal, so they had a delightful time. 

In succeeding days Crowther thought fre- 
quently of the girl, much to his chagrin. He de- 
cided that the best way to forget her was to apply 
himself assiduously to his work. Now it was 
nearly a week since they had spoken, and he 
was willing to admit that he missed her tre- 
mendously. So he decided to call that night, re- 
turn the handkerchief, and present the girl with 
his prize cover and a box of candy. He won- 
dered whether she was at home. He closed his 
door softly and went out into the hall. 

The door of her studio was partly open and 
he could see a tall, dark young man sprawled in 
her most comfortable chair. 

In the centre of the room Janet was posing 
in a ravishing evening gown of green velvet, at 
the same time flirting a huge green feather fan. 
She made an adorable picture. 



Crowther was immediately jealous. Why 
hadn't she told him that she was engaged? He 
had been a fool to even think of her at all. Of 
course the lout was taking her out for the eve- 
ning. 

Crowther crept back to his studio, lighted his 
pipe, and smoked moodily over a dying log fire. 
He kept to his resolution and did not encounter 
the girl for a number of days. Then he remem- 
bered he hadn't returned the handkerchief. 

All day long it had rained, but now it poured. 
Rain beat so incessant a tattoo on Crowther's 
roof window that his loneliness became unbear- 
able. He hurried into the hall, and without 
waiting to think, he knocked on his neighbor's 
door. 

He noticed traces of tears on her face. 

"Miss Murray— Janet, are you ill?" he asked 
anxiously. 

She smiled shamefacedly. 

"No, not ill, just plain homesick. It has been 
such a blue, lonesome day," she wailed, starting 
to cry again. 

She sniffled, and smiled as he made a motion 
toward her. 

"My brother came to visit me from the 
West, so I've had my first real spell of homesick- 
ness since I came to New York." 

Crowther mentally kicked himself down stairs. 
Then in one big rush of words, he told her that 
he loved her, how he had seen her brother, and 
how miserably jealous he was. 

"Janet," he said gleefully, "will you go out to 
dinner with me tomorrow evening and wear that 
adorable green frock?" 

"Oh, let's not think of tomorrow," she whis- 
pered. "I'm so happy now." 



A Study in Color 

A rose is sweetest near decay, 
And sweeter then is nectar made; 

The sunset is day's best array 
When red and blue in purple jade. 



A woman, brown like autumn leaves, 
A blend of comely nature's best ; 

With her God's beauty longest cleaves, 
But sweetest as time mounts the crest. 

Earl Lawson Sydnor. 



Page Thirty-three 



Four Poems 



By A. ALOYSIUS GREENE 



Invocation 

O God, with all my heart I ask of Thee 
That Thou wouldst give the wondrous gift to me, 
To raise a voice that has not yet grown strong 
Of singing with lips yet unused to song, 
To give my fingers skill to strike a lyre, 
Whose very strings would vibrate living fire. 
Aye, if my songs can make some load the lighter, 
Or if my pen can make some life the brighter, 
And if my lyre though crudely tuned can ring, 
And ringing, to some heart a rapture bring,— 
It shall not matter what my station be. 
If I can help some sightless one to see, 
The wondrous beauty that his God has given 
To wandering earthlings, ere they come to 

heaven ; 
If by some word I catch a song bird's note, 
Or send anew the rosebud's breath afloat ; 
If I can paint a picture of a tree 
As a cathedral consecrate to Thee; 
If I can make my fellow see the rain 
As heaven-sent, to soothe his earthly pain, — 
/ shall not care what bitter tears I shed, 
What sunless days, what nights I spend in dread. 
For I shall know that Thou hast heard my 

prayer— 
That I may breathe my songs into the air. 
All this, dear God, I ask of Thee that I 
May make some life less dreary, ere I die. 



To a Charwoman 

Deep black night descends upon 
The earth. Most folks seek 
Their hearths ; but you trudge 
Your way down to the city's 
Heart. Tall gray buildings 
Silhouetted dark against the 
Sky. Into one of these you go. 
And up the stairs. (The lift-boy, 
Too, is home.) Near, always 
Near the top of this great 
Tier of rooms. 

There you take your broom, 
And mop, and pail, 
And slowly, like some 
Engine thing, you raise 
The dust and clear the floors. 
Then, standing near a window, 
You gaze upon the city : 
Myriad lights and flashing signs. 
Somewhere down there is 
A girl in cloth of gold and 
Finest silk — a little 
Moth, who never sallies forth 'til 
Darkness falls and lights are lit: 
A little thing so very soft and frail. 
You draw your hand across 
Your eyes, to wipe away a tear 
(Or bit of dust I). 
As oft before, you note 
These hands of yours. 
Knobby, hard, red hands, 
Bulging, shapeless hips, 
Clubby ankles clothed in 
Coarsest cotton. 



Page Thirty-four 



And somewhere down 

Among the city's lights, 

A dainty girl laughs and dances— 

A girl in cloth of gold and silk. 

At last your work is done. 

You drag your toil-worn 

Body homeward, as pale- 

Faced boys and painted girls 

Leave the halls oj revelry. 

A great gray chariot, 

Roaring steel and glass, 

Whirs down the street 

As you attempt to cross. 

You stumble back 

Out of its faulty course 

And glimpse a dainty thing 

In cloth of gold and silk. 

Then someone cries, 

"Look out, charwoman!" 

A girl laughs— you smile. 

From you, poor cotton caterpillar, 

Sprang a butterfly in cloth of 

Gold, and silk. 



To a Girl Sleeping 



The Bather 

Upon a rock, whose lip o'erhung the pool, 
A jungle maiden stood with sylph-like grace. 
A thousand nights seemed harbored in her hair, 
A golden sun had oft' caressed her face. 

Her head was high to kiss the playful breeze, 
Her round breasts moved in measured rise and fall, 
Her form a symphony of lines and curve, 
With softest olive covering over all. 

Then, like a bow, her supple form grew taut, 
And arrow-like, went winging through the air, 
To cleave the droivsy, silver-surfaced pool, 
Which held her close, and toyed with her hair. 

Again she stood upon the jutting rock, 

As fair a Nereid as those of old, 

With droplets sparkling on her rich brown skin, 

Like random diamonds sprinkled over gold. 



I can't say what it was that led me by 

Your door, or caused my foot to pause upon the stair, 

Or what it was that made me turn my eye 

And gaze at you, serenely sleeping there. 

I saw the merest semblance of a smile, 

A smile symbolic of angelic rest ; 

One long black braid, that tried to hide, the while, 

The roundness of a dimpled, soft, bare breast. 

Then suddenly I took the stairs in flight, 
For fear I'd desecrate you with my eyes. 
I felt, I'm sure, as any sinner might, 
Who, in passing, stole a glimpse of Paradise. 



Page Thirty-five 



Sarcophagus 

By EUGENE GORDON 




|Y name, professor," apologetically de- 
claimed the bald, nose - spectacled, 
goateed black man, rising in the rear of 
the room, "is Hezekiah Thompson. You 

1 have probably heard of me: I'm profes- 



sor of history at the Star of Zion Baptist College, 
in Macon . . . Macon's in Georgia." He paused, 
and there was a noticeable twitching of the left 
side of his neck and face. Meeting only with 
cold silence, he went on defensively : "I came up 
here to Boston University just to take this won- 
derful course of lectures in Egyptian and Ethi- 
opian History at the Summer Session. I notice 
every day you ask if anybody'd like to make a 
comment or ask a question on your lecture, and 
nobody ever says anything. Today I'd like to 
ask a question." 

The class of sixty white graduate students 
turned and stared as the speaker paused a second 
time. Then they turned and looked at the 
wizened, grayish, sharp-featured Professor of 
Egyptian and Ethiopian History. He sat behind 
a small table at the front of the room, frowning, 
and frequently glancing at the clock above the 
door on his left. 

"Well ?" he prompted bluntly. 

The man from the Star of Zion smiled. "I'd 
like to make a brief statement first," he said, 
addressing the students rather than the lecturer. 
Self-consciously he fingered his black-and-white 
striped tie; felt of the flaring wings of his high 
collar ; stroked the wide black ribbon which fes- 
tooned gracefully from the glasses on his aqui- 
line nose. He went on, the muscles of his neck 
and face twitching spasmodically: "My state- 
ment is this : The white professors of history, as 
well as the white so-called historians, are in 
league to ignore the black man's contribution to 
civilization. For instance, all our lives we've 
been taught that Ethiopians were just ordinary 
Negroes; why, the Bible itself says so. But as 
soon as it is found out that the Ethiopians were 
a people of great importance—" 

The professor rose and picked up his green 
cloth bag. "Mr. Thompson, the 'class period 
is ended," he said shortly. "I'm sorry. You'll—" 

"So am I, professor, but—" 

The professor, his face red with anger, struck 
his palm upon the table. "That's enough from 

Page Thirty-six 



you, sir! If you care to stay and see me after 
the others have been dismissed, all right; but I 
refuse to listen to you further— under the circum- 
stances." He took out his watch, glanced at it, 
replaced it, then made a gesture of dismissal to 
the students. 

"That's all," he said. 

Immediately the room was abuzz with voices. 
The professor stood tapping the table nervously 
with his knuckles as the men and women passed 
out; as some of them lingered, sitting on the 
broad arms of their chairs; as they whispered 
excitedly behind their hands, staring from the 
angry white face of the professor to the twitching 
face of the black man. Thompson now sat for- 
ward, alertly, on the edge of his chair, his eyes 
glittering. 

Presumably convinced that many had no in- 
tention of quitting the room, the professor per- 
emptorily ordered them to leave. 

"Our friend evidently has some deep-seated 
grievance against white folk in general and 
against me in particular," he said, with forced 
jocularity. 

When the last had departed, closing the door 
after them, the professor said abruptly: "Now, 
then, Mr. Thompson, what is your trouble?" 

The black man picked up his rusty brief case 
and his straw hat and moved to the front of the 
room. Laying his belongings in a chair beside 
him, he sat down directly in front of the pro- 
fessor and crossed his long, thin legs. His lower 
lip was quivering now, and his head was making 
short, spasmodic jerks. His eyes were glitter- 
ingly bright. 

The professor backed round until the table 
stood squarely between them; glanced toward 
the door, gripping the edge of the table firmly as 
if to give his nerves stability. 

"Well," he said impatiently, "begin." 

"Yes, sir. I will. I wish you'd sit down, 
though ; I'd feel more at ease. You make me feel 
like yelling when you stand there like that." The 
man laughed mirthlessly ; stared round the room. 
"As you can see for yourself, I'm somewhat nerv- 
ous, professor. It doesn't take much to get me 
all wrought up. What are you looking at me like 
that for? Do you think I'm crazy?" He seemed 
about to rise, but the professor, laughing as if to 



SARCOPHAGUS 

conceal a fear, signalled him to remain as he was. something about fine old shade trees that just 

He himself sat down, somewhat off from the . . . that just. . . ." He bent his head and 

table. He glanced at the clock, at the door, then tapped it with his knuckles. "Say, professor," 

looked at the man before him. he cried, snapping his fingers, "ever read Joyce 

"Crazy? Nonsense! Why should I think Kilmer's poem about trees ? It goes-" 

that? . . . You are nervous, though, are you The professor's face was a white, taut mask, 

not?" moistened at the forehead with clammy sweat. 

"I am, professor. Very. Sometimes I'm fright- In one hand he clutched his old Panama hat, and 

ened at myself. I . . ." His deep-set black eyes in the other his bag. He glanced at the door, 

seemed alternately to dilate and contract. They "I annoy you, I see. I tire you with my ran- 

wandered round the room. "I'm very much af- dom chatter." The man from Macon leaned for- 

fected that way when anybody crosses me. When ward and shook a long black finger at the pro- 

I get excited or lose my temper I—" fessor. "If you tried to leave me alone here, 

"We'll not discuss any unpleasant subjects, Mr. something would happen to you. . . . But I 

Thompson. . . . You say you are a professor of ramble, and I am sorry. To the point. Revenons 

history?" a nos moutonst So, now. Take this recent dis- 

"Yes, sir. Well, no. That is, I was. It's covery of Tutankhamen's tomb. He was a black 

rather amusing: you'll laugh. My college sent man until it was found he had carried remnants 

me up here— that is, the trustees told me I ought of a dazzling civilization into his tomb. Then he 

to come— to take this course. But yesterday—" became a white man. Even Ethiopians, that 

He laughed, picked up his brief case from the we've always been taught were pure African 

chair beside him, fumbled in it, and withdrew a Negroes, are 'white folks' now. Can you beat it ? 

letter. "Yesterday I got this." He half rose and as the boys say. In other words, everything 

passed the envelope across the table. "Just read that's any good is white. Now, isn't that so, 

that, will you, professor?" professor?" 

The professor drew out the folded typewritten The professor had been watching and listening 

sheet, opened it, and read. He replaced it in the with evident interest. He shook his head. "I 

envelope and passed it back without comment. shouldn't say so. You are obviously laboring 

"Don't you think that's rather queer, profes- under a very strange hallucination. You . . ." 

sor?" demanded the black man. He pursed his He halted himself as if suddenly reminded that 

rather thin lips and glared round the room. His he had said too much ; peered apprehensively at 

neck and face began to twitch. He said loudly : the man before him. 

"Well, / do, whether you think so or not. Get me But the listener was calm now. The twitching 

up here, then send me a request for my resigna- was scarcely visible, and the eyes were no longer 

tion." He frowned and stared at the floor. dilated. He appeared to be the professor of his- 

The professor began tentatively : "Then you're tory whose title he had but recently held, 

interested in Egyptian and Ethiopian history. The lecturer smiled, rose, and placed his old 

How did your interest in this subject come to be Panama on his head, 

aroused?" "I'm glad to have been of service to you, Mr. 

Thompson stared, puckering his forehead ; bent Thompson," he said, moving toward the door 

his head and tapped it with his knuckles. He rather hurriedly. He stopped. "If ever I can—" 

looked up quickly. "But you're not leaving yet, sir," cried the 

"How? I'll tell you how, professor. Why is it black man, jumping up. "Why, you haven't an- 

that colored people— Negroes, if you please— are swered my question." He picked up the brief 

being denied credit for their contribution to case and fumbled in it, pulling out a book. The 

civilization? Take—" professor, half way to the door, stood looking at 

"But they're not, are they? Don't you think him, his forehead knotted in a frown, his thin 

your premise is unsound?" pinkish lips opening and closing as though tasting 

"No, I don't. My premise is perfectly sound something unpalatable. 

. . . perfectly sound. As sound as I am." He "Here . . ." The man turned the pages, mois- 

smiled across the table. "Not very sound, then, tening his thumb on his tongue. "Here, professor. 

I suppose you say. But never mind that. They'll Here is a passage in a book you wrote yourself, 

never get me inside a strait-jacket again. . . . The 'The Glory of Cheops.' On page 195 you say 

grass was green round there. Plenty of fine old this ; listen, professor, to what you say yourself, 

shade trees. Do you know, professor, there's You say: 

Page Thirty-seven 



THE SATURDAY EVENING QUILL 

" 'The inhabitants of both Abyssinia and Ethi- Thompson stared after him, his neck and face 

opia were mixed races. In Abyssinia, southern twitching, his eyes dilated and glittering. Then 

Semites, immigrants from the Arabian Yemen on he ran forward very swiftly, and just as the old 

the other side of the Red Sea, were the dominant man reached the brink of the staircase well, 

race ; and in Ethiopia Hamitic Lybyans from the shoved him. The body shot out, shrieking, 

western desert formed the ruling class, while the sprawling, whirling, descending, the green bag 

mass of the people were probably racially dropping away from it. The bag landed far 

Hamites if not actually of Lybyan origin. The below with a smart thud. A moment later there 

whole region involved was inhabited in antiquity, came the sound of a heavier, more compact object 

as it is today, by dark-colored races in which striking the hardwood floor. There followed no 

brown prevails. But they are not,' you say here, other sound, save that of the ancient elevator 

professor, 'they are not, and were not, African creaking on its cables in the nearby shaft. 

negroes, although many individuals in the same Thompson returned to the room, put on his 

region show a mixture of black blood many of j^ and picked up his bdef case He went Qut 

them being blacks of the slave class. and rang for the elevator> He seemed s i ng ularly 

He closed the book with a vicious snap, and, composed and detached. His eyes were but 

narrowing his eyes, leaned forward and thrust a slightly brighter than normally, and even had the 

quivering finger under the professor's nose. He age d elevator man not been near-sighted, he 

asked angrily : "Why do you all delight so in li- could not have detected the veriest tremor of 

belling a whole race, professor?" nervousness in his passenger. But the operator 

The professor made a gesture of weariness, paid no heed, and as soon as Thompson had 

"What need is there of my telling you that you stepped out, the elevator man lowered the car to 

are wrong? You don't seem to be able to con- the basement. 

centrate on anything save the one delusion of Thompson detoured widely round the right of 
your grievance. Let us have done with this non- the stairs. The man had fallen on the left. At 
sense," he said sharply. "If you doubt that these the front door he looked back. He saw pro- 
people were not Negroes, go to the art museum— trading from the shadow beneath the stairs the 
ever been there?" g ra y head of the professor on the floor. 

"I've spent a part of every day, recently, in Qnce in the gtreet he alter n a tely walked and 
the Egyptian and Ethiopian room ran He ran onl when no one was near him 
Well, I am curator of that department. I Looki continuous i y over his shoulder, he mut- 
uant you to go there and look at the skulls of tered . « Th m t me t what chance has a 

those mummies in the glass cases. Many of them poor beast f a black man, anyway? They'll 

have become unwrapped. Examine the skulls track me down as sure as fate> „ 

closely. If you see any resemblance between _, . . .... . , 

them and a Negroid skull, I'll be glad to make a Pe / sons meetin f h ™ strai , ned their ears * P 1C * 

note of your discovery when I revise my book. U P, fragments of his soliloquy ; stopped and 

By the way," he said, as if with sudden inspira- ^ked after him. When he noticed this he 

tion, "here's something you might do. Have you sllen 1 ce J d himself > inc [ eased *» P ace , untl * he 

seen that great nineteen-ton granite sarcophagus reached a corner ' then turned swlft1 ^ from 

—the one with the lid back against the wall?" view. 

The man stared at him, his neck and face be- when h e arrived at the art museum there was 

ginning to twitch, his eyes to dilate and glitter. an hour until closing time. He mounted the flight 

The professor backed toward the door ; the black of white marble stairs, turned to the left down a 

man followed. l° n g vaulted corridor with a series of doors open- 

The professor made an arresting gesture. "Wait ' m S int <> each side of it, and came at length to the 

a moment. I want you to go to the art museum entrance of the Egyptian-Ethiopian department, 

—tell them I sent you, if you wish. Tell them Jt was built to represent an ancient Egyptian 

Dr. Niles sent you to do a little research work tQ mb, and had the appearance of being carved 

for him. Go to the Egyptian-Ethiopian room and into tne solid rock of a mountain. Beside the 

explore that biggest granite sarcophagus. Get door > in a chair tilted back against the wall, there 

down inside of it, and later report your findings sat a uniformed guard, asleep, his cap pulled over 

to me." his eyes. 

The smile about his lips as he turned away Thompson walked in and looked about. He 

seemed more grim than salutary. was like a man standing alone in the center of a. 

Page Thirt^eight 



SARCOPHAGUS 

musty tomb. Through a crevice of a window, Thompson's neck and face began to twitch and 

high up, a yellowish blade of daylight cut the his glinting eyes to seek the dimensions of every 

eternal gloom. Other light came dimly from corner. He looked upward and, with a quick 

concealed bulbs round the border of the low and gasp, grabbed his brief case. Then, clutching it 

rugged ceiling. The walls bore protuberances in his fingers, he seized the broad ledge of the 

of glass shelves weighted with objects from the sarcophagus and drew himself up its seven-foot 

country of the Nile : statuettes, fragments of ala- wall. Throwing his leg over, he scrambled down, 

baster vessels inscribed with the names of for- as into a pit. 

gotten dynasties, and samples of pottery from the The lid was quivering at the disturbance. It 

burnt rooms of the western Defufa ; mud sealed had left the wall and stood like a malignant 

impressions from the same source, brass bowls, thing of reason, pondering whether to seal the 

glass jars and decorated pottery from the Me- captive in. The man was now struggling madly 

roitic cemetery ; scarabs and golden crocodiles up the steep smooth side, scuffing it impotently 

from the Great Cemetery of the Hyksos Period ; w j t h the toes of his shoes, trying to get out. The 

busts of black granite of a King of the Twelfth nd veered. It smothered shrieks in a muffled 

Dynasty, and so on, interminably. roar of thunder. A statuette toppled, shattering 

"No wonder they want to claim the Egyptians itself on the flagstones. Mummies two and three 

and Ethiopians for the white race," he muttered, thousand years old shivered in glass cases, 

"when you look at all these things." He had been Echoes spent themselves in the vault-like 

here countless times before, and on each occasion chamber, 

he had made the self-same observation. Reverberations died in distant corridors ; then 

Leaning against the walls, underneath the silence, save for the five o'clock gong, 
shelves, were a dozen mummy cases in cubic Without, the guard's chair had come down 
figurings and fantastic coloring; mummies of men again with a clack. The man rubbed his sleepy 
and women dead two and three thousand years, eyes as he stood in the doorway. In the vault- 
in glass cases. Some of the wrappings had fallen like room beyond, a yellow blade of sunlight cut 
off, exposing powdering bones. The man bent" the thickening gloom. A thin cloud of dust par- 
close over these and studied the shapes of the tides danced in it. Corners were already dark, 
skulls. Objects in corners against the walls were already 

There were a few wooden sarcophagi, but these indistinguishable. ... Ah ! The sarcophagus lid 

were empty. Against the wall in a corner stood a was down. So that was the cause of the big 

great granite sarcophagus weighing, with its up- noise, was it ? 

turned lid, nineteen tons. A small card with this The guard stretched, yawning, 

information printed on it hung from the wall. "All out ! " he called ; simply a routine detail. 

About this monster trunk-like casket there "All out!" 

seemed to lurk centuries of shadows. Thompson When the guard got downstairs the director 
stooped and examined the figures in relief on the was locking the office door. The guard said : 
surface of the granite hulk. There was pictured "Mr. Hawley, did you locate the superinten- 
here a procession of slender Negroid figures, dent? George came round to the Egyptian de- 
some with staffs in their hands, and others with partment looking for him, but — " 
what resembled pails and bags and tools. Then "Yes, we found him." The director slipped his 
came figures of jackals, serpents, and hawks, key into his pocket, set his straw hat at a more 
There were others which he could not identify, jaunty angle, twirled his cane, and started toward 
But he had no doubt that these figures repre- the street. "He has just left." 
sented Negro men. He ran his finger over them The guard said suddenly: "Oh, by the way, 
and smiled. Mr. Hawley." The director paused, half turning. 

There was a sound of footsteps on the flag- "That big sarcophagus lid fell just now. It—" 

stones of the corridor. Thompson dropped to his "Oh, did it? Well, I'm not surprised. Dr. 

knees at the end of the nineteen-ton sarcophagus. Niles warned me of it yesterday. Said the slight- 

The legs of the guard's chair clicked as they est vibration would cause it to fall. So I intended 

dropped to the floor, and someone was talking to to have it lowered, anyway . . . when we got 

him— an indeterminate rumble of men's voices round to it. Don't have to bother now, though, 

that conveyed no meaning. Then-one of the men do we? . . . Good night." 

said loudly: "But I would swear I saw him come He went on into the expanse of the evening, 

this way! They said he did. They said . . ." twirling his cane. 

Page Thirty-nine 



The Cosmic Voice 



By GEORGE REGINALD MARGETSON 



/ am the cosmic, vibrant force, 

Eternal energy; 
I am the never jailing Source 

Of mind and mystery. 

I am the ocean and the wave, 
The vast and mighty sea; 

I am the restless winds that rave 
Round earth's broad canopy. 

I am the mountain and the vale, 
The swiftly rushing stream; 

I am the lightning and the gale, 
The calm, the blissful dream. 

I am the sun, the stars, the moon, 
The darkness and the light; 

1 am the tropic breath of June, 
The soul of Arctic night. 

I am the toads, the rocks, the trees, 
The wee blind worms that crawl; 

I am the birds' wild rhapsodies ; 
The power that governs all. 

I am the sweet scent of the rose, 
The wormwood's bitter gall; 

The silent prayer at evening's close, 
The softening dews that fall. 

I am the cyclone and the flood, 
The hope-song of the dead; 

I am the life, the virgin blood, 
And all that's sung or said. 

1 am the full-voiced symphonies, 
The music of the Spheres; 

The pulsing, haunting melodies 

That dry the world's sad tears. 



Page Forty 



THE COSMIC VOICE 

/ am the Christ within, without, 

The hand of destiny; 
The tumult and the thundershout 

Of all humanity. 

I am the billion souls that think, 
In life's mad whirlpool thrown; 

I am the tie that binds — the link 
'Twixt earth and worlds unknown. 



I am Supreme Intelligence, 

Unalterable Law; 
Sleepless, untiring diligence, 

On which earth's systems draw. 

I am the Oracle Divine, 

Finite and infinite; 
I am the myriad gems that shine 

Magnificently bright. 

• 

/ am the unchallengeable Being 
That science fails to trace; 

I am the unseen, but the seeing 
Of endless time and space. 

I am the atoms of the air, 

The floating, mystic screen; 

I am a Spirit everywhere, 

Shall be and e'er have been. 



I am the heavens and the earth, 
All forms— above, below; 

I am the One and only Birth 
And all there is to know. 



I am that free high-winging host 
Shorn of the earthly clod; 

The Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, 
The known and unknown God. 



Page Forty-one 



Little Heads 

One- Act Play of Negro Life 
By ALVIRA HAZZARD 

CHARACTERS 

Bee( Twelve-Year-Old Twins 

JOEJ 

Mrs. Lee Their mother 

Frances Their sister 

Edna A friend 

The scene is a comfortable living room. There is a window, right, 
and an entrance from the front door and the rest of the house at the 
left. The arrangement of the furniture is optional. There should 
be a reading table in the room. Joe and Bee are discovered at op- 
posite ends of the table, studying. 

Joe (looking up). What's the good of study- (They come forward. Joe is pleasant and 

mg, Bee. Let's quit. teasing, but Bee is getting cross. She cannot get 

Bee (looking around cautiously). You know away.) 

what mother said. Bee (kicking). MOTHER! Joe's hurting me! 

Joe (in whisper). She wouldn't know. (Mrs. Lee enters.) 

Bee. But you know what Miss Perry said Mrs. Lee. Joe, what are you doing to your 

about your conscience! sister? 

Joe. When? Joe (letting go). No thin'. 

Bee. Oh, you were there. She says that a lit- Bee. He hurt my wrist. (She rubs it.) 

tie voice inside worries us most awful if we do Joe (quickly). She slapped me. 

something wrong, whether anyone knows it or Bee. You started it. 

not. Joe. I didn't. 

Joe. How does she know? Mrs. Lee. (firmly). Stop it! (They eye her, 

Bee. Don't be a big silly ! She's smart, like and are silent.) Back to your books, both of you. 

Frances. Mother says that Francie'll be a Bee. But mother . . . 

teacher some day, just like Miss Perry. Mrs. Lee. Not another word. Frances is com- 

Joe (chin in hands). Miss Perry's white. ing tomorrow night, and you won't want to study 

Bee. All the same, Francie's just as smart. then. 

Joe. She's smarter, I think— except when she Joe. Bee said . . . 

reminds me about behind my ears and all that Mrs. Lee. Don't make me speak to either of 

nonsense. (Pauses.) Say, Bee, wouldn't you you again, 

like to be white sometimes? (Slowly, silently, they flop into chairs again. 

Bee. No. They cast sly glances at each other, trying to 

Joe. Aw, be yourself ! I saw you almost cry keep sober. Finally both grin sheepishly.) 

the other day in geography. You saw Allen Bee. (softly). You didn't hurt me much. 

Farnsworth look and grin when they were saying Joe. Why'd you holler ? 

about the black race havin' kinky hair and all Bee. I wanted you to stop, 

that junk. Joe. I'll squeeze you hard next time. 

Bee. Well, anyway, I wouldn't be white. Bee (hands behind her). Dare you. 

Joe (pointing finger). You're bein' stubborn! Joe. Say it again, and see what happens. 

Bee (slapping finger). Get your finger out o' Bee. Double dare, 

my face. » (Joe jumps at her so suddenly that in evading 

Joe. (catching her hand and laughing). Who'll him she falls over chair. He trips also. They 

make me ? are in awkward positions on floor when Mrs. Lee 

Bee (rising, he holds her tightly). Stop, Joe, appears.) 

Joe. Make me. Both (giggling). It was Bee— Joe. 
Page Forty-two 



LITTLE HEADS 



Mrs. Lee (entering and re-arranging things). 
March right off to bed, the two of you. Do you 
hear me? 

(They get up and face left. At sound of door 
bell Mrs. Lee goes out. Voices are heard out- 
side: "Frances I" "Hello, mother," etc. Children 
rush out. They come back immediately with 
each a bag. Frances and mother follow. Frances 
is the center of attention. She takes off hat and 
coat and sits down. Mrs. Lee stands near table. 
The children stand at a distance from Frances, 
eyeing her.) 

Mrs. Lee. Well, this is a surprise, Frances. 
How did it happen? 

Joe (to Bee). I will! 

Bee (alarmed). You needn't. 

Joe (teasing). I will ! 

Bee. Don't, Joe, please . . . 

Joe. Frances, she got a C in 'rithmetic. 

Bee (running out). You mean, hateful boy! 
I hate it, anyway. 

Frances (laughing). Come back, Bee, it can't 
be helped. I hate it, too. (Bee comes back and 
hangs over Frances's chair. Joe sprawls near his 
mother. They cast glances at each other.) Oh, 
yes, you were asking me why I am ahead of time. 
Well, you see, there is to be a most wonderful 
week-end party at Oak Manor given by one of 
the wealthiest girls on the campus. Mary says 
that my name is actually on the list. I had to 
get home and sort of get together. I cut a class 
to do it, but the party is worth it. 

Mrs. Lee. We'll miss having you here. 

Frances. I know it, but this time I'm not able 
to be sensible and resist. 

Mrs. Lee. Of course you want to go. They 
are all white though, aren't they? 

Frances. Yes, but they are all so nice to me 
that I shall be quite at home. Then, too, Palmer 
is going. We can be together, and I just know it 
will be great. 

Mrs. Lee. Does everyone in the school go? 

Frances. Indeed not. That's the thrill of it. 
Only a dozen or fifteen couples are to be favored. 
No one but Mary could make me believe that 
I'm actually included. 

Mrs. Lee (trying to hide worry). Won't it be 
expensive, Francie? 

Frances. About a hundred dollars extra would 
do wonders. Isn't my endowment policy due 
about now? You know I'm twenty-one. (She 
hugs her knees in anticipation.) 

Mrs. Lee. We'll see about it. But run and 
rest a while now, and I'll get you a bite to eat. 



Frances (rising). Sounds good to me. I'm 
famished. But such oodles of news as I still 
have to tell you. Don't bother fixing anything 
special, for I could chew shingle nails. (She goes 
out. Bee follows, making a face at Joe as she 
reaches the door. Joe bolts after her.) 

Mrs. Lee. Right back here, young man. I'll 
have no more fussing in this house tonight. 

(A voice is heard outside. A pleasant young 
girl of about Frances's age enters.) 

Edna. Hello, folks. I walked right in, since 
the door was open. 

Mrs. Lee. Fine. Come right in, Edna. 
Edna (coming in and ruffling Joe's hair ; he 
frowns). I saw Frances come in, and couldn't 
wait to greet her. Isn't she ahead of time? 

Mrs. Lee (blankly). Yes, we were not looking 
for her until tomorrow. It was a real surprise. 
She is upstairs, and will be right down. Make 
yourself at home. (Edna leans on the table ana 
thumbs a book. Mrs. Lee rises.). Edna, my 
dear— (noticing Joe)— -Joe, mother wants to speak 
to Edna. (He scuffs out.) I suppose I shouldn't 
bother you with this, but, well, it's like this . . . 

Edna (encouraging). What is it? 

Mrs. Lee (in an attempt to get it over with). 
Frances had some money from an endowment 
policy. We spent it, and cannot replace it at 
once. I didn't think of Francie wanting it so 
soon. I had planned to give it to her in gold for 
her birthday. (She sits down again and fingers 
her beads or scarf nervously.) 

Edna. Do you think that Frances will really 
mind? 

Mrs. Lee. Oh, she won't mind, because I de- 
posited it to Bob's account. He finishes How- 
ard this year, you know, and he is always broke. 
Poor Bob's pitiful plea came with the check— 
the same mail. It was pampering him to send so 
much, but, as I told you, the money was handy, 
and I planned getting it in gold from the bank 
the first of the month. What worries me is that 
Francie has her mind set on a party for this very 
week-end. I'd rather do anything than spoil her 
fun. 

Edna. That is a shame. What can we do? 

Mrs. Lee (leaning toward Edna). I don't 
know, but I thought you might help me think. 
I'm rather upset about it. She wants new clothes, 
I'm sure. 

(Edna gets up and walks to the window. 
There is an awkward silence.) 

Edna (turning). I'll tell you what, let's not 
tell her until the last moment— that is, let's wait 

Page Forty-three 



THE SATURDAY EVENING QUILL 



a day and see if she decides to do without many 
new things. I'll try to talk her into making the 
trip as cheaply as possible. 

Mrs. Lee (rising and going toward door). All 
right, Edna, you do that, and we'll both sleep on 
it before we tell her. You just make yourself 
comfortable while I fix her something to eat. 
She ought to be down any minute now. (She 
goes out.) 

Edna (coming down center and sitting on 
chair arm). Just like a mother. A couple hun- 
dred—it must have been that much— to that 
spendthrift of a son. And to be paid back to a 
gem of a daughter from the interest of the family 
income. Well, Frances deserves it, there is no 
doubt about that. (She goes back to the window 
and looks out. Frances comes in on tiptoe, and 
surprises Edna. They hug each other. Edna 
whispers something.) 

Frances. Not really! Is he keen? 

Edna. You'll see him. How about yourself— 
heartbreaker ? 

Frances. No news here, except that the ador- 
able Palmer Brennon is to be invited to Dolores' 
party, and Mary says she saw my name on her 
list. I hope the invitation comes tonight. 

Edna (sitting, while Frances lounges on the 
arm). Your mother told me. Isn't it thrilling ! 

Frances. Positively ! They evidently are ask- 
ing both of us, to make it pleasant all around. 
We must shop tomorrow. I have an insurance 
that is most handy at this particular time. I 
really think mother has it already, but wants to 
be mysterious. 

Edna. Yes ? 

Mrs. Lee (from outside). Come on, girls. I'm 
all ready. 

(They go out with their heads together. Joe 
comes in and sits down in deep thought, his head 
in his hands. He snaps his fingers as if an idea 
had struck him.) 

Joe (calling). Bee, O Bee! (She enters.) Lis- 
ten, silly, I've got news. 

Bee. Foolin' ? 

Joe. No, I'm not. 

Bee (going to window). Joe, the mailman is 
coming here. I can just see him. 

Joe (over her shoulder). Gee, Sis, I've a hunch 
it's that letter. 

Bee. What letter? 

Joe. You wouldn't understand, » but wait. 
(He runs out, coming back with a letter in his 
hand. Bee stays at the window.) See, I was 
right. It's a special for Frances. Can you keep 
a secret? 

Page Forty -four 



Bee. Of course. 

Joe. Well, this is that letter inviting Frances 
to the party, and her money is spent, so she can't 

go. 

Bee. I've got five dollars in my bank. 

Joe (with disgust). What's five dollars? The 
check was for ever so much over a hundred. Sit 
down. (She does.) Now, listen. If Frances does 
not get this mother won't have to worry about 
sending her money to Bob. She'll think the rich 
girl forgot to invite her, after all. 

Bee (in alarm) Oh, Joe, we can't keep it. 

Joe. Well, what shall we do? 

Bee (frowning). I can't think. 

Joe (fingering the letter). We might open it. 

Bee (covering her ears). Oh, Joe, never, 
never ! 

Joe (with an air of importance and standing 
with feet apart, near her). Bee, remember 
you're a girl. I'm going to pry it open and read 
it to see if that helps. 

Bee. How? 

Joe. My jackknife. (They bend eagerly over 
the table as Joe prys the letter open carefully. 
As it is done they both sigh heavily.) Listen to 
this: "Dear Frances, I'm having a week-end 
party at the Oak Manor, and want you to come. 
Palmer, we hope, will come also. You are both 
so clever, we want you to help entertain. 
Haven't you some old things so that you can 
dress like— well, you know — sort of old- 
fashioned, and sing some of those delightful spir- 
ituals? Palmer will probably bring his sax. 
You will have some fun, besides serving your 
schoolmate, Dolores Page." 

Bee. Then Frances won't need much money, 
after all. 

Joe. Won't you ever grow up a little ! 

Bee. I'm as old as you are. 

Joe (strolling to window, and looking back at 
her in contempt). In years. 

Bee. You're not so awful smart, see. 

Joe (coming back to the table). Well, we 
can't argue this time, and you can't ever tell, be- 
cause you helped me. (He tears the letter into 
bits and stuffs it into his pockets, while Bee looks 
on in wonder and amazement. She jumps up and 
runs to door to peep and see that no one has seen 
them.) 

Bee. Don't you feel most awfully wicked, 
Joe? 

Joe (with feeling). No, I don't, but I just hate 
that Dolores Page. Let's go now. ( Voices are 
heard). We'll feel— guilty— a little bit— when 
they come in. (They tiptoe out hand in hand.) 



Four Poems 



By GRACE VERA POSTLES 



Song 



Just a song 
And then a prayer— 
A song and a prayer again ; 
A song for life, 
A prayer for death- 
Let this be the end. 



The grass may work 

About my grave 

And wrap me 

In a shroud of green. 

And I will be in quietude 

Content to repeat your song 

And prayer. 



Life 



In the happiest moment 

Of her life 

She sang a song of pain. 

In the darkest moment 

Of her life 

She sang a song of joy. 

On joy depends pain, 

On pain, joy. 

Alas ! and that is life. 



A Lighted Candle 

You move with a slight tremulous motion 
As you plead earnestly for a chance; 
You sway and dance so frantically, 
But you grow weak and dim, 
And as the shades of darkness fall, 
Your life becomes extinct. 

The little thoughts we cherish, 
And strive in our hearts to kindle, 
Are often smothered by a stronger flame 
And passed into oblivion. 



Golden Sorrow 

The heart that's 

Sealed with joy 

Will melt in sorrow ere long; 

The heart that beats with gladness, 

Must throb with affliction 

And expel the commingling elements 

Into the cup of golden sorrow. 

We drink the bitter tonic 
And live another life. 



Page Forty-five 



The Red Cape 

By GERTRUDE SCHALK 




ETER walked down the gangplank 
of the Southern Cross, a small brown 
paper bundle held carefully in the 
crook of one muscular arm. He 
stopped for a moment on the dock 
and brushed his worn peajacket with a calloused 
brown hand, settled his cap firmly on his round, 
shaven head, and started for home. 

"Hy, there, Pete. I'm agoin' yo way." Shorty 
scuffed up to Peter, his short, broad frame clad 
most unseamanly in a bright checkered suit. 
"I'm agoin' uptown, too." 

Peter looked down from his height of six- 
feet-three at the eye-dazzling splendor of his 
friend and shipmate. He grinned. 

"Shuh," went on Shorty happily, tipping his 
undersized derby further over one ear. "It sure is 
p-ood to put yo hoofs on dry Ian agin, ain't it, 
Pete ?" 

Peter grunted. Words, expressive of just how 
glad he was to be on shore again, were crowding 
up in his throat, but somehow they stuck in his 
windpipe and choked him. Peter had always 
been inarticulate. It had never been easy for 
him to talk. Sometimes he felt he would burst 
if he couldn't talk ; yet he had never burst, and 
he had never talked more than was necessary. 

"Yes, sah, I'm agoin to fill ma eyes with all 
the fem-i-nines I kin find." Shorty looked up 
at his companion and winked. Then, suddenly : 
"Say, Pete, where yo goin? Have yo got a gal 
in this poat?" 

Peter cleared his throat loudly. "Got a 
wife," he said, and he unconsciously straightened 
his square shoulders. 

"No! Sho nuff?" The little man was aston- 
ished. "Now, what yo thinka that! How long 
yo bin married?" 

"Ten months," said Peter. 

Shorty was silent, while he surreptitiously 
counted on his stubby fingers. Then, in fur- 
ther amazement, he turned again to Peter. 

"Lord, Pete, yo bin away on the Southe'n 
Cross fo six months! Yo mean to tell me yo 
left yo wife fo that long time, when yo s had only 
bin hitched fo foah months?" He gazed, in- 
credulously at his friend. 

Peter nodded shortly; his stride lengthened. 
How could Shorty know that Peter himself had 
Page Forty -six 



worried about the same thing ?— leaving a four 
months' bride for six months, alone. Well, any- 
way, it was over now. Peter was back, and 
please God, he would stay home for some time 
to come. 

"Uh," said Shorty thoughtfully, "six months 
a long time to leave a gal. They git lonesome- 
like, an . . . But I guess yo gal's different." 
He looked hopefully at Peter. 

"Yeah, Mamie's— different." And Peter's eyes 
grew tender when he pictured his Mamie in all 
her brown loveliness rushing to meet him. 

"That's who yo brung them red shoes fer, 
aint it?" Shorty nodded toward the brown 
paper bundle under Peter's arm. 

Peter grinned widely. "An she's got a red 
cape." In his mind he could see the red cape 
and the red shoes on Mamie. 

"Urn," Shorty grunted admiringly. "Bet she 
look too hot in all that red, huh?" 

Peter didn't answer. He was breathing 
deeply of the warm May air with its welcome 
odor of people and stores and cars and horses, 
and the innumerable other scents peculiar to 
towns. The two men were nearing Main street, 
Peter striding along swiftly, Shorty half running 
in an effort to keep pace with his taller friend. 

Just before they turned into Main street, 
Shorty stopped suddenly. Peter, halting 
abruptly, turned. 

"I leaves yo heah, Pete." Shorty grinned 
slyly. 

"Where yo goin?" Pete frowned at the devil- 
ment on Shorty's face. 

Shorty jerked his thumb backward over his 
shoulder. "Down there." 

Peter looked. They had stopped at the cor- 
ner of Sea street, a short thoroughfare with just 
three frame houses on one side, the last, a yellow 
ramshackle building, backing right into the 
Baptist burying ground. 

"Yo going to— Sadie's?" Peter made no at- 
tempt to conceal his distaste. 

"Nothin else but," grinned Shorty. "I craves 
fem-i-nine company right now." 

"But them gals is rotten," protested Peter, 
"damn rotten!" 

Shorty laughed loudly. "I likes em rotten. 
The rottener the better, I says. Well, guess I'll 



THE RED CAPE 



be hittin it. I aint got too much time. Yo 
know, I'm sailin on high tide tonight." 

"Goin' on the Beacon?" 

"Yep. The damned ole Southe'n Cross goh 
be roun this poat too long to suit me. I'll kinda 
miss yo, Pete." 

"I didn't know yo was goin . . ." Pete 
choked. He wanted to tell Shorty how sorry 
he was that they had come to the parting of 
the ways, but the words would not come. He 
held out his hand. "Uhhuh. Goodbye, Shorty." 

Shorty understood. "I was hopin yo would 
come, too, but seein yo is hitched . . ." He 
ended with a sigh. "Well, I'll be seein' yo some- 
time. Good luck." 

Peter stood on the corner and watched 
Shorty's broad figure bearing itself jauntily to- 
ward the yellow house. When Shorty came out 
of that house he wouldn't have a cent. Peter 
growled deep in his chest; what he'd like to do 
to Sadie and all her women ! 

"Well, well, if it aint ole Pete!" A thin 
brown man stopped in front of the sailor and, 
thrusting out a nervous hand, gripped Peter's, 
shaking it heartily. "It's bin a montha Sun- 
day's since I seen yo last." 

Peter grinned. "Six months," he said liter- 
ally. 

The man pushed his hat to the back of his 
head and scratched his ear. "My, my! A half 
a yeah. Six months." 

"Yeah," assented Pete, sidling around to make 
a fresh start for home. He didn't want to be 
kept any longer from seeing Mamie. 

"Say, Pete . . ." The man was trying to 
remember something. His forehead was 
wrinkled in a frown. "Seems to me I heard 
something bouten yo. . . . Now what was that ?" 

"Bouten me?" 

"If it warnt yo it was somebudy near yo. 
. . . What was that, now?" 

Peter felt something flicker excitedly within 
him. " Yo hear bouten my wife ?" 

The thin brown man slapped his knee and 
guffawed loudly. "Yo hit the nail on the head, 
Boy. Cose I 'member now — " He stopped sud- 
denly. 

"Yeah," said Peter calmly. "What yo hear?" 

The other man looked as if an invisible hand 
had been placed across his mouth. He shuffled 
his feet in the dust and scratched his ear nerv- 
ously. 

"I ... I can't rightly member now, Peter." 
But his eyes shifted suddenly to the ground. 
Edging around the curious-eyed Peter, the man 



began to back away. "Guess I better be hittin 
it fo' home. The ole lady's waitin fo me, I 
guess. Pick yo up later." 

Peter stood watching the man's hasty depar- 
ture. What in hell was the matter with him? 
Heard something. . . . Folks were always hear- 
ing things. Peter snorted. Next to women 
like Sadie, he hated gossips. 

Shrugging his shoulders, the big man faced 
homeward once more. He had taken perhaps 
two paces when a moving flash of color filled 
the corner of his eye. He turned quickly to- 
ward Sea street and the yellow house. A woman 
in a red cape was running past the burying 
ground, making a bright streak in the gather- 
ing darkness. 

Peter stood fast, a tall raw-boned brown man, 
as motionless as a statue of darkest bronze. 
Where had that red cape come from? Instinc- 
tively the man's eyes searched the three houses 
of Sea street. The first two were vacant. That 
left only the yellow house. 

The red cape disappeared in the gloom of the 
upper end of the burying ground, and Peter, 
with mind an insane turmoil, moved mechan- 
ically down Main street. 

The woman in the red cape was Mamie. He 
knew that. He felt that he had known all along 
that something like this would happen. Six 
months was too long to leave a bride, yet . . . 

He remembered suddenly the thin brown 
man's effort to recollect "somethin" and the 
too abrupt halt in the conversation. Rage filled 
him— rage at Mamie and rage at himself for 
leaving her. What if he had made more money 
for this six months' cruise? What was money 
when one's wife was unfaithful? Drops of 
perspiration dripped into his eyes ; the palms of 
his hands were hot and moist. 

Something ground into his side. He looked 
down. The tiny spiked heel of one of the red 
shoes had broken through the paper and was 
sticking into him. Unseeingly he turned the 
parcel over and went on down the street. 

People passing him stared curiously at the 
queer, set expression on his face. Peter fancied 
that they were pitying him ; pitying him for hav- 
ing a faithless wife. Yet it hadn't been all 
her fault. Mamie, young and alone in the house 
day after day, week after week, month after 
month. 

He found himself praying clumsily that when 
he got home she would deny being on Sea street. 
Even if she was lying, he prayed she would stick 
to it to the last. What if other people knew it? 

Page Forty-seven 



THE SATURDAY EVENING QUILL 



If she only denied being on Sea street. ... It 
would be so easy for him to forget it. He'd 
believe her. 

Peter walked past his street three times be- 
fore he could turn in and seek his house. The 
rage had died down ; only a dull misery sat upon 
his heart. He crushed his head in his big hands 
to still the tortured visions of the billowing red 
cape. 

Now he was going up the creaking wooden 
steps to his flat. He stood for a moment on the 
landing outside the door, breathing quickly. 
Then he turned the knob quietly. 

Mamie stood with her back to the door, clat- 
tering pans on the stove. The warm smell of 
frying filled the kitchen. In the center of the 
floor the table was laid for two, with a red 
fringed cloth and sweet-grass napkin rings. 
Peter remembered them; he had brought them 
from China. 

At the sound of the opening door, Mamie 
turned her head. When she saw Peter she gave 
a little scream of joy and, rushing around the 
table, flung herself into his arms. Instinctively 
Peter's arms curved about his wife's slender 
waist. She hung around his neck, her thin arms 
trying to drag his head down to her own. 

The feel of his wife's warm body against his 
own was an agony to Peter. This woman who 
lay in his arms had betrayed him. 

He took her head in his huge hands ; her face 
seemed somehow thinner. He looked into her 
clear dark eyes and a sickening sensation grew 
in the pit of his stomach. Muttering in- 
articulately, Peter thrust her away. Mamie 
fell back, her eyes hurt. 

"Why, Peter! Aint yo glad to see me?" 
Her little hands crept to her flat breasts. 

Peter, his face averted, flung himself in a 
chair. He must quiet this jumping inside of him 
so that he could face her with his question. 
That red cape . . . Damn it! He could hear 
Mamie's quick breathing above the sizzle of the 
frying. 

"Peter . . ." He looked up and saw fear 
growing in the depths of her eyes. "Peter, 
what's the matter? Yo sick?" 

He shook his head and slumped deeper into 
the chair. Why should there be fear in her eyes 
unless she was guilty? He shook his head to 
clear away the mist that persisted in forming 
over his eyes. 

After a minute Mamie turned dazedly to the 
stove. 

Page Forty-eight 



"My poah boy," she said softly, "he don't feel 
good." 

She moved softly about, turning the meat in 
the frying pan, tasting the rice-and-beans, season- 
ing, stirring. Yet, always behind the darkness 
of her eyes, her fear grew. 

"Look, honey," she said eagerly. "I got rabbit 
fo yo . . . smothered in vinegar, jes like yo likes 
it." 

She looked at him anxiously, almost pitifully. 
But Peter had his head between his hands. Then, 
without warning, he heard his own voice coming 
from a long distance, calm and cold. 

"I seen yo tonight." 

He felt her start as if he had been touching 
her. "Seen me? Where yo see me?" How thin 
her voice was! 

"I seen yo comin out Sea Street." 

The grease in the frying pan hissed sharply in 
the sudden stillness. Mamie leaned against the 
sink, her eyes seeming to shrink into them- 
selves. 

"Then . . . then yo . . . know?" Her little 
figure drooped and her voice was flat. 

"Yo admit ..." He couldn't get the words 
out. He put one trembling finger in his loose 
collar and pulled it farther apart. "I seen you," 
he finished futilely. 

"I was — goin to tell you . . . later." She 
seemed far away. 

"Then, it's true!" Sickeningly the room 
whirled. He had never known how he had 
counted on her denying it. 

"Yes," she whispered," but— who tole yo?" 
Her lips trembled; she clutched the hard cold- 
ness of the stone sink to steady herself. 

"I seen yo," he repeated, and then, as if a 
hidden reservoir of words had burst within him, 
he began to talk— at first calmly, almost emotion- 
lessly, then gradually rising to a frenzy. 

Mamie covered her ears with her hands and 
cowered between the sink and the stove. She 
moaned intermittently, while Peter stood over 
the table and beat her down with harsh and 
bitter words. 

At last it was over. There was nothing more 
to say. Breathing heavily, Peter staggered down 
the rickety stairs to the street. He stood for a 
moment in the cool night air, then with firm 
tread he made his way to the docks. 

Shorty looked up from the tarred rope he was 
winding. Peter stood there, his pea-jacket 
swinging open, a brown paper bundle under his 
arm. 



AMICITIA 



"Lord sakes an I'll be damned ! Is it yo, 
Pete? What yo doin on the Beacon? This 
ship aint comin back heah fo most two yeahs." 

As the ship nosed its way out to sea, Peter 
gazed after the yellow lights of the dock as they 
receded into the darkness. His eyes were bleak 
with the years of misery to come. 

"I doh care if we never come back," he said, 
and, leaning over the rail, he dropped the brown 
paper bundle into the black water. . . . 

Back in the warm kitchen with its smell of 
frying rabbit, the woman who lived in the flat 
below Mamie was trying to comfort the girl. 

"But who could've tole him?" asked Mamie, 
with a calmness that made her neighbor shiver. 
"Nobody much knew bout it." 

"No, honey, nobudy much knew," said the 
woman. "Only the folks right round heah." 

"I was goin to tell him, after he had et . . ." 

"I think it's a sin an a shame the way he 
treated yo." The woman sniffed indignantly, 
but Mamie shook her head. 

"He probably thought I oughter sent him 
word bout it, but I wanted to surprise him. And 
now . . ." She dropped her head wearily. 



"Yo poah chile, yo couldn't help it . . . what 
happened. But I am surprised he took it the 
way he did. After all yo bin through. If he 
hadda bin the right kinda man he woulda bin 
heah with yo an then maybe it wouldna hap- 
pened . . . racing off and leavin yo foah six 
months!" 

Mamie stared before her, her eyes hard and 
dry. The neighbor twisted her apron nervously 
and patted the girl on the shoulder. 

"Yo right thin yet, aint yo?" she said sym- 
pathetically. 

But Mamie didn't hear. Getting to her feet, 
she walked steadily to the bedroom and came 
back with a red cape about her shoulders. 

"Where yo goin?" asked the woman anxiously. 

"To Sea street." 

"Ooh!" 

A short while later a woman stood over a 
tiny plot in the Baptist cemetery on Sea street. 
Kneeling suddenly, she stared with agonized 
eyes at the head-stone. "Peter, Jr. Born April 
IS, 1928. Died April 30, 1928." 

Shuddering violently, the woman lay down 
on the damp grave and her red cape fluttered 
defiantly to the breeze. 



Amicitia 

Life has its torments — and also its heaven — 
While fate brews the cup that we drain. 
Sometimes a smile gives to sorrow a leaven, 
And sometimes joy lessens pain. 

Toil plies the lash to make sweeter our resting 
No matter on what plane we start. 
Lonely the journey, and vain is the questing 
If friendship is lacking in heart. 

See o'er the sands at the dawn of the morning 
The sun and the sea as they part; 
And then, in the twilight, all land-faces scorning, 
They kiss, and in darkness depart. 

Over the rosy-red wine of the billows 

The sun hears the voice of night call 

And fades where the wind-sprites have placed soothing pillows, — 

Thus friendship attends upon all. 

Joshua H. Jones, Jr. 



Page Forty-nine 



A Group of Poems 

By GERTRUDE PARTHENIA McBROWN 

Jehovafis Gesture 

All night long 

Yielding bodies 

Swayed 

To the syncopated tunes 

Of the jazzers. 

Jazz-hounds everyone they were 
As they poured their souls 
^ Into the instruments of choice. 

The fierce wind howled without, 

Then, speaking in angry tones, 

Shattered the window panes 

And blew out the lights. 

Zeus hurled his thunderbolts 

And zigzagged the lightning through the dark. 

The dancers' feet stood still; 
The jazz-hounds were mute. 

Angry winds, 
Serpentine lightning, 
Rolling thunder . . . 
A crash! 

A hurricane of souls . . . 

The hand of God . . . in the dark. 



Full Moon 

Awake, love, see the glory of the night, 

The glory of the night! 
Let's walk the silver carpet 
Under heaven's lantern bright. 

T*r tit Still is the air, 

Silent are the trees; 

Even the stars have closed their peeping eyes 

And left us to the night. 

The glory of the night ! 

Alone on the silver carpet, 
Alone, love . . . alone . . . 

Awake, love, awake! . . . the lark! 
Page Fifty 



Sunset Calm 

A crimson blush bids me look on high 
As the scarlet dimples deepen in the dark'ning sky, 
?£, T? How fast the blending colors come and go . . . 

O infinite miracle I dare not know ! 
Fold me in your veil of rest . . . 

Now all is calm . . . I'm blest. 



Flights 



I've a dream 

Spun from your silken hair, 

And jewelled 

With the starlight of your eyes. 

I've a dream 

Swaying with the rhythm of your form, 

And sparkling 

With the melody of your song. 

I've a dream 

Woven out of the soul of you 

Into the soul of me. 

And now,— I see the moon I 



Two Worshipers 

Away from the busy crowd 

A penitent woman stole one day, 

And hurried into a church to pray. 

Away from the noisy throng j^^S. 

A tall red man stole one day, 
And climbed Mount Henry to pray. 

She knelt before the holy cross ; 
He communed with the sacred tree. 
Both bowed to worship; 
Both felt the need of Thee. 



Page Fifty-one 



If Wishes Were Horses 

By EDYTHE MAE GORDON 




HE boat churned its way up the harbor. 
Men, women and children filled the 
decks. Numbers of people sat on fold- 
ing chairs. The wind blew fiercely. 
Women held down their skirts to keep 
their knees from showing. 

In the shadows, near a corner, there sat a man 
holding the hand of a little girl. His brown 
felt hat flopped weakly over a sallow, hollow- 
cheeked face. He stroked his greying black 
hair with an impatient gesture. His harassed 
mind had been further disturbed. What had 
that gypsy fortune-teller meant, anyway? For 
the fun of it, he had gone into her tent on the 
beach. Now he could not dismiss from his 
mind this swarthy, dirty-looking woman in her 
outlandish costume of red, orange, and purple. 

He got up and went below. He bought him- 
self a magazine, and a bar of candy for the little 
girl. On their way up, they stopped to watch 
the greenish-white water dash angrily against 
the huge wheels. 

The boat passed an island, and most of the 
passengers rose, went to the railing, and stretched 
their necks in an effort to see the prisoners the 
city kept there. Fred Pomeroy sat down. He 
was wretched in his dejection. His only interest 
lay in trying to fathom the meaning of the 
fortune-teller's prognostication. She had taken 
his hand and examined the lines of its palm. 
After several minutes, she had said: 

"Things will be different. Your wife will be 
able to realize her desires. She'll do some of 
the things that she has long wished to do. You'll 
be the maker of her dreams." 

Frowning, he glanced down at his trousers. 
Though neatly pressed, they were noticeably 
threadbare. They had been in service for three 
years. He had worked for five years in Shannon- 
Jones' Department Store, selling yards and yards 
of muslin to tired and irritable women. At 
night he wrote stories. He did not make much 
advancement at the department store. As to 
the stories, all he had been able to realize from 
them were pink, blue, and white rejection slips. 
Perhaps there was a check at home for the 
story "Love Will Find a Way," sent to "Love 
Or perhaps, tomorrow morn- 



Art' 



magazine. 



ing, he'd get a promotion, with a ten-dollar raise, 
at Shannon- Jones'. 

He gazed absently at Dorothea, who had 
slipped from his embrace. She was playing 
with a little boy on the deck. Pomeroy looked 
at her, but he was thinking, "What does it all 
mean?" He wondered why he had gone into 
the gypsy's tent at all. Why had he been at- 
tracted to "Madam Lenora," this woman who 
guaranteed to read one's entire life— the past, 
the present and the future— declaring that one 
would be wiser and happier after a visit to her ? 

"True," he reflected, "in a way. She did tell 
me something, but she read neither my past nor 
my present. She only told me of my future. 
I am not happier; certainly I am not wiser. I 
can't see how / can make Rachel's dreams come 
true, when I don't know what they are, even." 

Pomeroy's mazagine dangled between his slim, 
brittle fingers. He pondered, and his mood 
created these lines: 

Why are we always groping, — 
Why are we always hoping 
To obliterate the pain 
And happiness to attain? 

When he walked from the boat down the gang- 
plank to the wharf, leading Dorothea by the 
hand, his eyes strayed to a poster : 

EXCURSION DATES 

CONSULT C. J. MANIX 
Proprietor of the Beautiful Steamer 

QUEEN MARY 

SUNDAY EXCURSIONS 
2:30 and 6:30 p. m. 

Come early and make your reservations 

Pomeroy made a grimace, grasped Dorothea's 
hand, and hurried away. He was tired of ex- 
cursions. He never wanted to see a beach 
again. 

Rachel's critical eyes noticed how listless 
her husband was at dinner. He ate but little, 
and complained as usual of feeling ill. She 
attributed his lackadaisical manner to fatigue. 
He seemed to be tired, exhausted, all the time. 

They had been in bed for hours when Rachel 
awoke. She felt cold air blowing upon her, 



Page Fifty-two 



£fo 



LOVE ME 



and she pulled the covers closer. Yet she 
shivered. She had dreamed that she was flying 
alone in an airplane. She had been sitting in 
the cockpit with perfect control, when, suddenly, 
something had gone wrong and the engine had 
died. The plane had plunged down into empti- 
ness. It had struck an ice peak and had landed 
on a glaciated mountain. She had heard a roar- 
ing noise and had seen a huge block of ice split 
itself from the glacier. She had been unable to 
reach the wrecked plane because of the faceted 
spurs. No human being had been in sight . . . 
Her feet were freezing. She lay shivering. 

She lay thus for several seconds. She felt colder 
all the time. It occurred to her that the room 
was as void of sound as the arctic wastes had 
been. She listened to hear her husband's breath- 
ing. There was no sound. Suddenly afraid, she 
reached out her hand and laid it on his face. He 
was icy cold . . . 

Some weeks later Rachel received a long blue 
envelope in the mail. When she opened it a check 
for $50,000 fell on her lap. 



It was Pomeroy's insurance . . . 

Nellie Niles, who had once lived across the 
street from the Pomeroys, sat reading the Sun- 
day newspapers. 

She idly turned to the society section. For 
the amusement it afforded her, she read column 
after column concerning marriages, bridge 
parties, weddings, club activities, church affairs, 
and the doings of the younger set. Her eyes 
came to rest on the headline: 

SAILS FOR EUROPE 

She read the accompanying story: 

Mrs. Alfred Pomeroy, of 69 Academy road, Boston, 
accompanied by her daughter, Dorothea, sailed Friday 
afternoon for Europe. After touring Italy, France, 
and Spain, Mrs. Pomeroy will be the guest of Mrs. 
Conklin Van Bruce, at her villa at Cap D'all, France." 

Nellie Niles stared from protruding eyes, then 
she read the item over again, slowly. She laid 
the sheet on her knees, her heart beating pain- 
fully and her gaze straying off into space. 

She sighed. In an acrimonious tone, she ex- 
claimed aloud: "Gee, gosh!" Then she added 
mournfully: "Some people have all the luck!" 



Love Me 

Love me, 

I would command. 

But do not decide — 

Leave the question open. 

Your passional nature 

Will not decide now, 

On intellectual grounds. 

Your passion is stronger 

Than your technical rule 

To choose 

An undetermined truth. 

Let logic, later, rule 

Your action. 

Love me, 

I would command. 



Edythe Mae Gordon. 



Page Fifty-three 



Four Poems 

By JOSHUA H. JONES, Jr. 



The Last Leaves Fall 

The last leaves fall and winter's gelid hand 
Has left a bleakness where it stripped each twig and shrub. 
Where yesterday a vernal warmth made glad the land, 
A sallow, sad, sere gloom drapes heath and scrub. 
Where living mantle dressed the shoulders of the earth, 
Now only veil of glory, dimmed and gone, remains; 
Where birds delightedly their throaty matins gave, 
A tomb-like stillness hovers that all mirth restrains. 

Yon path that wound beneath the shaded sky 

Shows whitened strip as if some knife had drawn 

Across the flesh and left a bleachened scar, 

A mask for epitaph for effort writ in toil and scrawn. 

How bright the moonbeam danced o'er mead, and cast 

Its shaft of brilliance on a livid earth. 

Now all the beauty, all the thrill of life is past. 

When seen in nakedness, what worth ?—what is the worth ? 

The last friends go and I am left alone 

With only ghosts to tell who lived on summer's slopes ; 

Just memory remains, like some inscribed stone 

Above a sepulchre wherein lie buried dreams and hopes. 

Has life been vain? — Was summer's gladness nought? 

Did friendship have no solacing for all the dearth? 

The cold wind's answer in the trees is caught : 

"Who lives for friends has blessed a parched and dying earth. 



Gloaming 



When dew-dank airs are cooling 
The earth for night's repose, 
Astraea, sun-trails ruling, 
Lures sweet sighs from the rose. 

Then Mem'ry fond comes warning 
Or days gone now so long, 
And brings old thoughts new-borning, 
With oft re-echoed song. 

As twilight to dusk turning 
Drapes all the Great Sikh's art, 
Night shrouds me— leaves a burning 
Pain throbbing near my heart. 

Page Fifty-four 



Magic Moonlight 



Twilight dampness chills the vespered air. 
Wisps of soft, white jog float over rustic hill, — 
(Vanguards of the night that follow day when fair), 
While from the nearby copse come voicings of a rill. 
Now eerie whispers sigh like gentle zephyrs through the trees, 
To tease the heart to thrill, the feet to prance. 
The night prepares to set the whole world at its ease, 
While o'er the silv'ry, wispy lawn the moonbeams dance. 
I love to dance! 



Calling Me Home 

Out of the misty years, out of my dreams, 
Voices of memory call me. 
Over the passing years, bridging love streams, 
Longings come — wistfully thrall me. 
Eager am I for the friends I have known ; 
Seek I again for the days that have gone. 
Oh, for an echoing voice, as I roam 
In old paths, calling me home. 

Only brief yesterday childhood was here 

Grief into happiness blending, 

Till only beauty and joy came to cheer 

Life's recollections, soon ending. 

Skies that were blue then, many a cloud 

Has painted drab ; hid hopes under a shroud. 

Hopes are returning,— birds in the gloam— 

Urging me, calling me home. 

Departed the mates of those sunny-bright years; 
Gone are they all to their duties, 
Taking life's offerings, joys with the tears, 
Seeking for truth and its beauties. 
Often at morn have I stood in the dawn, 
Back o'er the years my thoughts have been drawn- 
Wafted away across sand and o'er foam, 
Back to my youth and my home. 

Then as the twilight rays reach to the sky, 
Veils of night on me come falling. 
While to my heart again memories cry ; 
J««^ Mem'ries of friendships come calling. 

List'ning I hear them no matter the trail, 

If they've found happiness, or if the grail, 

Those who're still battling; those 'neath the loam,— 

All of them calling me home. 

Out of the misty years, out of my dreams, 
Voices of memory call me. 
Out of the passing years, borne on love streams, 
Longings come,— wistfully thrall me. 
Cheerfully telling of friends I have known, 
Gleefully picturing days that have gone, 
Bidding me wait for the call though I roam, 
Call that will summon me home. 

Page Fifty-five 



Washwoman 



By ROSCOE WRIGHT 




MY LEWIS, brownskin, continued read- 
ing the letter that she had just received 
from Jackson Scott, ditto. Tear after 
tear, in slow procession, trailed from 
her sad, reddened brown eyes. One by 
one the teardrops fell on the hastily scribbled 
sheet of paper that she held in her trembling, 
calloused dark hands. Each word of Jack's 
letter was a flaming brand 
that hissed and left an ugly 
scar on her troubled mind. 
She read to the end : 

". . . and Amy, dear, I 

hardly know how to 

tell you, but I am 

about to be married 

soon. There are many 

reasons, after all, why 

I can't marry you. I 

feel that you realize 

my new status in life 

and that you are will- 
ing to forget and be 

considerate about it. 

I am sorry, dear, and 

I hope you will forgive 

me. 

"Your friend forever, 
"Jack." 

The letter slipped from 
her nerveless fingers and 
dropped to the floor. She 
was momentarily stunned. 
However, she did not faint : 
she had had disappoint- 
ments before and was 
somewhat inured to them. 
But never before had she 
been so utterly chagrined. 
Her somewhat sensuous lower lip dropped deject- 
edly, her long, ginger-brown arms hung limply. 
Quick as a flash, the lower lip met the upper in a 
line of grim determination: the arm muscles 
tautened, and her fists clenched until her finger 
nails bent against her hardened palms. 

"Oh, hell," she sighed, "that's the way a damn' 
man does you. Gets all he wants and then takes 
up with somebody else. But I ain't goin' to for- 
give him— nor forget him, either ! " 

Page Fifty -six 




Amy arose and shuffled back into her kitchen. 
Here, in this room, was her means of livelihood : 
two wooden tubs, and a worn brass washboard. 
For more than five years she had rubbed and 
scrubbed dirty, sweaty, and steamy "white folks' 
clothes" by day, and, by night she had aban- 
doned her tired but willing self to the rapacious 
whims of Jack Scott. It had pleased her to give 
Jack peppermint-striped silk shirts, gay neck- 
ties, and screaming socks; 
but most of all, it had 
pleased her to surrender 
herself to him. 

Amy tried to resume her 
washing but she couldn't. 
Even the water-soaked 
handkerchiefs weighed a 
ton apiece to her, as she at- 
tempted to rub them across 
the corrugated surface of 
her washboard. Images of 
Jack haunted her ; thoughts 
of his falseness mocked 
her. As she gazed listlessly 
downward into the hot, 
foaming suds, she saw his 
face laughing at her from 
the myriad, mirror-like 
bubbles that alternately 
formed and burst. Her 
hopes had formed and 
burst like these bubbles. 

Amy summoned up cour- 
age and resumed her toil- 
some task. She finished 
the clothes in a desultory, 
haphazard manner. She 
rinsed them and hung 
them out on the pulley-line 
where they fluttered gayly 
in a capricious breeze — a galaxy of silks, linens, 
and cotton things. Then she went to her bed- 
room: this room, once alive and cheery with 
Jack's baritone voice, had now become a silent 
purgatory. Jack's large, autographed likeness 
grinned malevolently at her. A tie that he had 
liked flaunted itself from one of the dresser posts. 
These things were now, indeed, objects of torture. 
She opened a drawer to get a handkerchief. Her 
eyes fell upon a pair of turquoise silk pajamas 



WASHWOMAN 



— the pair that she had bought for him last 
Christmas. Amy broke down. Half dazed, she 
flung herself across the bed. 

As she lay there, vibrant with sorrow, the 
events of the previous five years flitted rapidly 
before her eyes. They seemed like fragmentary 

motion picture scenes. 

* * * * 

Five years ago she had met Jack— to her it was 
only yesterday. Amy was thirty-three, then. 
But she hadn't appeared to be a day over 
twenty-five. She had just secured a divorce from 
her drinking, brawling husband on the grounds 
of adultery, having felt that she could stand his 
infidelity no longer. She was living alone when 
she met Jack, and was attempting, for the first 
time, to completely earn her own keep by tak- 
ing laundry to do at home. "If I had your 
looks and your shape, I'd find some other way 
besides bursting suds," many of her women 
friends had advised her. But Amy preferred the 
straight, and, consequently, narrow way. She 
was mentally equipped for little but hard work, 
having scarcely finished the eighth grade in the 
District of Columbia public schools. 

Jackson Scott came to Washington just after 
Amy had been awarded her absolute divorce 
decree. He enrolled in Freedman University 
there. He was of the type that almost any 
woman would fall for— tall, robust, and hand- 
some. His not-too-long, bronze face combined 
two natures, sweetness and seriousness. His 
eyes were positively compelling, and he knew 
how to use them effectively. 

Jack, like many other students at Freedman, 
began to crash the "rat" dances at a hall on 
You street, North West. These hops were given 
regularly every Saturday night. The students 
called them "ratty" because, strictly speaking, 
they were by no means highbrow affairs. The 
scholarly boys from "the hill" descended in 
large numbers on these plebeian functions, and 
they always found servant girls, girls of question- 
able virtue, and still other girls that were out- 
and-out sidewalk pounders. 

Curiously enough, almost all these girls were 
physically attractive. Besides, they were easier 
pickups than the society belles, who always de- 
manded a modicum of respect and were, most 
of them, supposedly unapproachable. But these 
"totes" were catch-as-can. Ballroom etiquette 
was flung to the four winds during round after 
round of hot, dreamy jazz numbers. The dull 
thud of tom-toms and the blare of tremulous 
trumpets had an atavistic effect upon the writh- 



ing, perspiring hoofers. Many Freedman boys 
had been, wholly or partly, put through school 
as a result of having physically pleased some 
of the easier pickings that they had met at 
such dances. 

Jack met Amy Lewis at one of these honky- 
tonk affairs. Amy was trying to disport her- 
self and forget some eleven years of unhappy 
married life. Her sturdy, well-built legs and 
rounded form appealed to him at once. He got 
one dance with her— a dreamy slowdrag. That 
dance called for more, and then he danced with 
her again and again— deliberate, dreamy, quiv- 
ering "stomps." 

They talked. Jack told her of his scholastic 
activities as a freshman in medical college. He 
told her how he was trying to earn his way 
through school and how hard that was to do. 
Then he told her how difficult it was to find 
a girl that wasn't a gold-digger and that really 
cared. Amy had always been a hero worshipper. 
It flattered her to think that she was being 
sought by such a man as this. She looked ahead 
into the years and childishly pictured herself 
as Mrs. Jackson Scott— "Doctor Scott's wife," 
people would say, as she would roll by them in 
a large, chauffeur-driven Plerce-Arrow. Jack 
was careless of the truth, and somewhat ego- 
tistical. Because of her instantaneous love for 
him, Amy assumed every magical sentence of 
his to be a pure and unadulterated fact. 

Jack saw Amy home after the dance. He had 
never before stayed from home or dormitory 
all night. When he left her apartment the next 
morning he felt that a new and hitherto un- 
known phase of life had been opened to him. 
He had got his first taste of a mature woman's 
love and had liked it, because it was so unlike 
the half-ripened passion of the adolescent 
"dickty" debs and sub-debs with whom he had 
associated since his teens. 

Days passed, months unrolled into years. Amy 
had jealously mothered Jack through his fresh- 
man, sophomore, junior and senior years of 
medical training. At first there had been small 
loans to him, on his promise to pay when his 
ship came in: this mythical vessel always re- 
mained far at sea. As time went on, the loans 
took on the nature of gifts. And they were fre- 
quent—there were ever books to buy, fraternity 
dues to pay, athletic assessments, and spending 
change. But washing clothes paid well. Amy 
was able to help Jack along and save a bit, 
besides. She saw that he got his lessons, even 
when he didn't feel like studying. She never 

Page Fifty-seven 



THE SATURDAY EVENING QUILL 



went out anywhere with him. She seldom felt 
like going anywhere but to bed, when her long 
days of labor were ended. And when she did 
happen to want to go to a dance or a movie, 
Jack was either too busy or he had a very im- 
portant "conference" with his "dean." Never 
once did he speak of marriage. But she didn't 
care. She did not expect him to espouse her 
until he became Dr. Scott ; then he surely would 
wed her. She knew ! 

Jack was away during the three vacation 
months of each year, and Amy was blue and 
miserable. He wrote regularly, twice each week, 
and his fervid, sugary letters compensated some- 
what for his absence. One summer he went to 
Asbury Park as bell-hop ; another, he worked 
on the Fall River line steamers out of New York. 
The summers following his junior and senior 
years were spent in New York, as a red cap at 
Penn Station, and waiting on table at Atlantic 
City, respectively. 

Before going to Atlantic City Jack received his 
M.D. Amy was now ebullient with pride, to 
think that her Jack was at last freed from the 
bonds of study. Jack told the elated woman 
that he would return in the fall, for the required 
year of interne work. He departed for the noted 
bathing resort and, on arriving there, got a job 
at the Hotel Traymore. Amy, in Washington 
with her suds and duds, felt that Jack, no mat- 
ter where he was, was always working hard, 
thinking of her, and out of mischief. 

By some coincidence, Verna Payton, the mag- 
netic, dancing daughter of a Harlem real estate 
magnate, was also in Atlantic City for a season 
of recreation. She went forth daily to pet, play, 
and— prey upon the affections of susceptible 
young men. Jack had met her during the 
previous summer, at a dinner-dance in Harlem. 
He had seen her often throughout that vacation, 
and he had corresponded irregularly with her 
during his senior year at Freedman University. 

Amy knew nothing of her new rival. Jack, 
forever careful of what he told her, made no 
damaging slips of tongue. She intuitively sensed 
a slight change in his manner, but she thought 
it was because he was studying harder than ever. 
She always found some reasonable excuse for his 
indifference. 

On a seductive, moonlit June night Jack again 
met the voluptuous Verna— this time$ at one of 
the gala dances that were held at Fitzgerald's. 
From then on things began to happen. Jack 
could work fast when he wanted to, and an en- 

Page Fifty-eight 



gagement soon followed. A telegram to Amy 
brought the money for a small solitaire— a one- 
carat stone, set in green gold. 

Shortly after Labor Day Jack returned to 
Washington and to Amy. He began his interne 
work in a Negro hospital there. He was ter- 
ribly grouchy at times, but Amy always toler- 
ated him. She could not, however, understand 
his visits to New York on Thanksgiving, Christ- 
mas, and Easter. He patiently explained that 
these trips had to do with state medical boards, 
reciprocities,, and other big, polysyllabic things 
that were beyond her comprehension. 

Spring came. One bright May day, while 
Amy was out delivering clothes, Jack went off. 
He sneaked his clothing and other belongings 
away. He left a short, apologetic note telling 
her goodbye. 

For a month following his departure, Amy was 
ill, often in delirium. From May till September 
she did not hear from him. She spent days and 
nights of heart-breaking agony. Once she stood 
on the banks of the muddy, turgid Potomac and 
contemplated jumping in and ending her dis- 
tress ; however, her courage failed her. Deep- 
rooted religious convictions against self-murder 
prevented her from taking a final plunge. 



Amy awoke from her reverie and stared into 
her dressing-table mirror. Her once satin-like 
skin was lined with incipient wrinkles. Her 
glossy, Dutch-clipped black hair was now kinky 
and unkempt. Thirty-eight years old this 
month— her last and best chance gone ! Her 
eyes roamed lazily over the society page of the 
Washington Tribune that lay nearby, and they 
rested on a conspicuous photograph. The pic- 
ture, at first a dim blot, gradually became dis- 
tinctly outlined before her stare. Jack's! The 
bold-faced caption beneath the portrait leaped 
at her— "Pay ton-Scott Nuptials in New York 
This Week." There was a sub-heading— "Freed- 
man Medical Grad to Marry Rich Society Belle." 
She read on ravenously until she came to "Dr. 
Jackson Scott, of 2382 Seventh avenue," and, 
for the first time, she learned Jack's New York 
city address. 

"To hell with laundry work. To hell with 
everything. I'm goin' to New York. I must 
see Jack!" And three hours later she was 
aboard the fast Mid-day Express, speeding to 
Harlem. 

About nine o'clock in the evening of that 
same day, Dr. Jackson Scott opened the door 



WASHWOMAN 



that connected his office with the ante-room in 
which his patients waited. He gave a start of 
surprise and his heart thumped violently. There, 
before him, sat Amy. Her eyes spat fire. 

Jack recoiled. She seemed not a woman, but 
a sexless, unhuman thing— a puffed and hooded 
cobra poised, about to strike. 

"Amy! You here? Of all people, I didn't ex- 
pect you!" 

"That's why I'm here, because you didn't ex- 
pect me!" 

"You received my letter?" 

"Yes, damn you, I did ! " 

"Why, Amy! What's the matter?" 

"Plenty! I though you were a man, but 
you're no good. You have done me downright 
dirty. And even if it is no use, I've come to tell 
you what a lowdown, stinking cur you are. It 
was me, me, that made you what you are today, 
and now some other woman is goin' to get the 
benefit of it ! " 

"But, Amy, calm yourself!" 

"Calm nothin' ! I'm gonna talk, and you 
can't stop me!" 

"My office isn't the place—" 

"What do I care about your office ? When you 
were down and out, I was all right. Now 
you're on your feet— it's hooray for Jack and 
to hell with Amy. But that don't go!" 

Her voice was steadily, hysterically, rising. 

"Amy, let me explain, please ! " 

"I don't want your lies. I didn't come here 
to hear them." 

She spoke in shrill, screaming tones. 

"Amy, don't create a scene ! Suppose some of 
my patients should come — " 

"Damn your patients, and you, too ! " 

Something reminded her of her handbag. She 
fumbled with its clasp. She attempted to get up 
from her seat. All the blood in her throbbing 
body rushed to her face and tinted her features 
with an apoplectic, purplish-brown. Jack had, 
only on one occasion before, seen Amy as angry 
as this. He knew how to quiet her. He strode 
across the room and took her quickly, but 
tenderly, in his arms. She struggled feebly — 
his very touch always thrilled her so that she 
could never resist it, angry or not. 

"Amy, dear, you must consider. I realize that 
you have done everything for me. But ... I 
need for a wife someone of social standing: a 
woman that will fit with the crowd that I am 
forced to travel with now. You never men- 



tioned the fact that you wanted me for keeps— 
I didn't dream that you did." 

Charmed by his voice, Amy listened. He 
went on : 

"I'll admit, dear, that I have done you wrong 
— I am sorry for the anguish I have caused you. 
But I'll repay you for every cent that you ever 
gave me, and more, besides ! " 

She struggled to free herself. 

"I don't want your filthy money. Money 
can't repay me for some things I did for you, 
for five years of bein' your slave. Oh, if I had 
only known! I am goin.' Let me go!" 

She tugged and pushed him, like an enraged 
lioness. Jack, rather than engage in rough-and 
tumble combat, set her free. She ran to the 
door and paused. 

"Jackson Scott, you'll live to see the day when 
you regret this/' The door slammed. She was 
gone. 

Outside, on the avenue, Amy glanced into her 
handbag. Her eyes fell on the small, pearl- 
handed revolver she had brought along. She 
realized that she had utterly failed— failed to 
carry out the intention that had brought her 
to New York. 

The next morning Amy ambled meekly into 
the great ornate African Baptist Church, Har- 
lem's finest. She clambered upstairs to the gal- 
lery and dropped into a front-row seat. She was 
unaware of the assembled crowd of restless spec- 
tators buzzing about her. The stately edifice 
was a vast beehive filled with whisperings, 
steady dronings, and low mumblings of the 
gathered throng. The woman felt a lump rise 
in her throat, but she choked it back. 

There came a hush. The droning and 
mumblings subsided to a soft hum, the hum 
modulated into a death-house silence. The 
throng settled into a state of complete attention. 
From out of the yawning depths of her hand- 
bag Amy extracted a handkerchief. The gleam 
of the shining revolver dazzled her eyes. She 
shuddered. Again she swallowed the lump in 
her throat and dabbed her moist eyes. 

The massive pipe organ began its thundering 
peal. The opening strains of Lohengrin's 
Wedding March filled the spacious auditorium. 
To Amy it was unbelievable. The audience 
stood. Mechanically, as if in a trance, she, also, 
stood, unsteadily. 

A chilly, clammy feeling gripped her as Jack 
and his best man, immaculate in their black 
cutaways, dark gray-striped trousers, and spats, 

Page Fifty-nine 



INVOCATION 



followed the Reverend Obediah Cotton to the 
altar. As Jack took his place, to the right 
of the main aisle, Amy noted that he, too, seemed 
worried and not himself. He shifted his weight 
uneasily from one foot to the other. 

Below, on the main floor, the slow, solemn 
bridal procession moved from beneath her and 
crept down the aisle. The ushers, the flower 
girls, the bridesmaids— then the maid of honor. 
The bride, a youthful, beautiful brown vision in 
white taffeta and tulle, followed majestically on 
the right arm of her father. Amy again swal- 
lowed the lump that now rose persistently in her 
throat. Her heart was heavy. Her handbag 
was heavy; its weight taxed her strength. Her 
eyes were filling with tears. The whole scene 
became a dark blur before her dimmed vision— 
only Jack stood out in bold relief. 

The clergyman began the ordeal. To Amy, 
the ceremony was mere muttering. She rocked 
to and fro; she felt herself drifting into an in- 
finitude of space. The minister's mutterings grew 
louder and louder and formed into vague 
phrases : 



"Have this man . . . have this woman . . . 
to be thy wife!" Words, words, combinations 
of words resounded in her ears. The words rang 
like hammering noises in her head. 

"If any one ... let him speak . . . now . . . 
or forever hold . . . peace!" It was a 
challenge! She regained her senses. A deep, 
awful silence settled over all. 

Amy tried to control herself. She couldn't. 
The lump in her throat rose and split into sounds, 
the sounds into short, shrieking sentences. The 
mausoleum-like silence was suddenly rent by a 
long, loud and terrifying scream. 

"O Lord! I've got a reason . . . Jack's my 
man. . . . She can't have him, Lord ! She can't 
have him!" 

She tried to jerk her handbag open. But dark- 
ness gathered about her and she sank, exhausted, 
in her seat. The Reverend Mr. Cotton decided 
to investigate this unprecedented phenomenon 
before continuing the ceremony. As a result, the 
Payton-Scott nuptials ended in abrupt confusion. 

Dr. Jackson Scott and his wife, Amy Lewis 
Scott, make their home in South America. 



X^£ 



Invocation 

Let me be buried in the rain 

In a deep, dripping wood, 

Under the warm wet breast of Earth 

Where once a gnarled tree stood. 

And paint a picture on my tomb 

With dirt and a piece of bough 

Of a girl and a boy beneath a round, ripe moon 

Eating of love with an eager spoon 

And vowing an eager vow. 

And do not keep my plot mowed smooth 

And clean as a spinster's bed, 

But let the weed, the flower, the tree, 

Riotous, rampant, wild and free, 

Grow high above my head I 

Helene Johnson. 



Why do they prate of youth so much? 
'Tis too near to the root. 
A budding, yes, but I prefer 
The ripening of the fruit. 

Helene Johnson. 



Page Sixty 



Voices 



I heard the wind 
Create itself out of 
Nothing, and whisper 
A secret to the leaves. 

I heard the murmuring brook 
Sing a song of love 
To the blankets of daisies 
And bashful willows that 
Mirrored their faces from 
Green turfy banks. 

I heard some droning bee 
Kiss the drooping 
Face of a lily. 

I heard you whisper, 

"1 love you." 

I heard all the music of nature 



Earl Lawson Sydnor. 



Written 

With dreamer's eyes I watch the crescent moon. 
As dancing clouds enrobe her queenly state, 
Dull shadows, green and amber, blendingly mate. 
The restless leaves and playful brook, attune; 
All blending, chiming Nature is a boon, 
To loneliness. Inquiringly I slate 
The starry sky that entertains my fate— 
I read, "The joys of life escaped too soon." 

O dreamers' ship, the queen of spaceless skies, 
No truer symbol decks the jewelled night 
And holds my destiny at its command . . . 
Diana, I beseech with aching eyes, 
Oh, pause awhile in your majestic flight, 
And fill my longing heart and empty hand. 

Earl Lawson Sydnor. 



My Country Right or Wrong 

When the fifes and drums I hear, 
And the stars and stripes are near, 

I get a quaint and creepy feeling all my own. 

I salute my flag and smile, 
Yet a citizen exile . . . 
And my kin- folks back at home are exiles too. 

As on bashful breeze it flies, 
There form tear drops in my eyes, 
And would to God I had a God to hear my 
prayer. 

Through my tear-dimmed eyes I see 
What my country means to me . . . 
It's just a flag that floats above me . . . just a 
flag/ 

Earl Lawson Sydnor. 



Heedless 

Some unseen river in 
Earth's gullied bowels 
Sings a song of love 
To the senseless rocks. 
The mocking of the 
N on-pathetic clay 
Is like the echo heard 
From songs I sing. 



Earl Lawson Sydnor. 



Page Sixty-one 



Help Wanted 

A Play in One Act 
By JOSEPH S. MITCHELL 



CHARACTERS 

Leon A young married man 

Amy Leon's wife 

Nora Amy's aunt 

Juckes A white foreman 

Esther Proprietor of employment agency 

The time is the present. 
The place is any northern city. 

Scene I 
A kitchenette room in Nora's house. There is a window on one 
side of the room. There are two doors, one of which leads into an 
adjoining room and the other of which opens into the back yard. 
A gas plate for cooking rests on a box in one corner of the room. A 
cot is in another corner, and a table is in the center. A few chairs 
are placed in different parts of the room. There are a few dishes 
on the table ; a pitcher of water, a water glass, a wash-basin on one 
shelf ; food cans are on another. When the curtain rises there is 
no one in the room. Presently, Leon, a mulatto of medium build 
and rather handsome, but wearing a soiled collar, unpressed clothes, 
and unshined shoes, comes in. He has the morning paper in one 
hand. He walks despondently across the room, throws the paper 
on the table, and taking off his cap and top coat, tosses them on the 
cot. Leon then goes to the shelf, takes something out of a box, and 
begins to nibble. He sits down at table, takes paper, and turns 
several pages. He lights a cigarette and reads a little. Amy, a 
mulatto, comes in from an adjoining room. She is a girl of about 
twenty and is dressed simply in a house frock. She is chewing gum. 

Amy (going towards Leon). Back so soon, himself to death looking for work and trying 

Leon? to get his invention accepted. (Nora, a dark- 

Leon. Yes, Amy dear. Without any luck, as skinned woman, about forty years of age, 

usual. dressed simply in old house clothes, comes in 

Amy (sitting close to Leon). Didn't the man from the adjoining room.) 

meet you, take you to the plant and give you Nora (going towards Leon). Looka here, Leon, 

that job? you cain't live on love 'round here all th' time. 

Leon. No. Never showed up. I waited on Y'all been married mos' nigh a month, an' y' 

the corner for half an hour. Guess he's scared ain't hit a lick o' work since. This your las' 

to take a chance of placing a colored man. (Amy day for honeymoonin.' Git off your high-horses 

reaches over for the paper. He gives it to her. an' git somethin' to do. 

Nothing in there this morning for men. (He Amy. Mumsy, be patient ; give him time. 

takes some papers out of his pocket and places Nora. Done give 'im so much time already 

them on the table.) If I could get this invention 'till our stomachs feel like judgment day done 

accepted we wouldn't bother other people about come. (Looks meanly at Leon.) You promised 

giving us work. if I let you marry Amy you'd support me an' her 

Amy (throwing paper aside and stroking both. Now look at you ! Cain't even feed your- 

Leon's hair). And my Leon wouldn't have to walk self. 

Page Sixty-two 



HELP WANTED 



Leon (jumbling nervously with his papers). 
Aunt Nora, this is the greatest invention of the 
age. If it's accepted we'll want for nothing. 
(There is a knock on the door of the adjoining 
room.) 

Nora (moving the dishes from the table to 
the shelf). Cain't eat that invention. 

Leon. Planning how to improve it. Know it 
will go big then. 

Amy (stretching and yawning). See who's at 
the front door, Mumsy. 

Nora. I done raise you from a three-weeks' 
old baby, when your ma an' pa got killed by 
the train on their way to work— 

Amy (interrupting). Go ahead, Mumsy. 
That's an old story. 

Nora (going into the adjoining room). Now 
it's enough to feed an' sleep you idlers without 
waitin' on you, too. (Nora goes out.) 

Leon (standing up and looking in the direc- 
tion in which Nora went). I know now I'd bet- 
ter start on my daily rounds. (Amy walks over 
casually to the window and begins looking out.) 
Gee, honey, you can't imagine how hard it is 
to find work! 

Amy. It's raining. My sweetums don't want 
to get wet looking for an old job. You'll be your 
own boss, soon. 

Leon. That's what I always wanted to be. I 
have made the sacrifice. Now, since you 
wish me to, I will! (Nora and Juckes come 
in jrom the dining room. Juckes is a 
red-jaced white man, heavy-built and rather 
tall ; an outdoor workman, wearing overalls, and 
smoking an old pipe. He carries an air oj superi- 
ority. He does not stand still but walks and 
looks around as ij he owned the place. When he 
enters Nora is walking slightly behind him.) 

Nora (speaking in a humble tone). Yes, sir, 
Mr. Juckes, he needs work. Whether he wants it 
or not, give 'im somethin' to do. 

Leon (manjully, and extending his right hand 
to Juckes, who apparently does not notice it). 
Good morning, Mr. Juckes. Got something good 
for me to do today, Mr. Juckes ? 

Juckes. Got a good porter's job. Fifteen dol- 
lars a week. The colored porter we had 
struck with the white workers. 

Leon. Got something else, more in my line ? 

Juckes (excitedly). What's the difference, so 
long as it's work? 

Amy (angrily). You white folks think that's 
all a colored man can do— porter's work. Leon 



didn't get an education to be a porter. Did you, 
sweetums ? 

Juckes. Better be glad to get that from us, 
so long as you ain't got nothing yourselves. 

Nora. Don't be sassy, Amy. I didn't raise 
you that way. 

Leon. What about a machinist's job, over to 
the plant, Mr. Juckes? 

Juckes. Them's dangerous. Strikers might 
kill you. 

Nora. Porter's work's better'n starvin' ! 

Leon (glancing at his invention papers). 
Well, I'd like to work at my trade. 

Nora. He's scared of gittin' corns in his 
hands, Mr. Juckes. Always lookin' for work 
an' prayin' to God he won't find none. 

Leon. Not that, Mumsy. (Speaking to Juckes 
rather indignantly.) I resent discrimination! 
It's the principle ! It's the principle ! 

Nora. Cain't eat principle. 

Juckes ( sneeringly ) . Take it or leave it. 
That's what I say about you educated fools. 
(Juckes goes out. For a jew moments there is 
silence. Leon sits down at the table. Nora be- 
gins examining the boxes on the shelj. Amy 
continues looking out oj the window. Leon rests 
his chin in the palm oj his right hand.) What 
about the North: Get an education and can't 
use it. Spend money and can't earn it. 

Amy (shaking her head in a discouraged man- 
ner). And conditions are getting worse. 

Nora (to Leon). If you cain't find work 
'roun here y' ought to go back South. Plenty 
there. 

Amy (coming jrom window to the center oj 
room). I have something to say about that. 

Leon. Me! Go South! What chance have I 
got to be a man? Rather be a lamp post here. 

Nora. Keep on bein' out o' work you'll be 
a tombstone. (There is a knock on side door, 
lejt.) Come in. (Nora goes and opens door and 
Esther comes in. Esther is a blonde woman oj 
medium height, about thirty, and dressed in a 
plain business suit. She has the manner and 
bearing oj an intelligent and cultured person. 
Amy and Leon stand up.) 

Esther (coming to center oj room). Good 
morning. (Bowing to every one in the room.) 

Amy (together with Leon). Good morning. 
(Leon offers Esther a seat. Esther and Leon sit 
down. Amy arranges a pillow on cot and lazily 
reclines on it. Nora continues working.) 

Nora. Good mornin'. You'd think it's eve- 
nin', tho', the way they's hangin' 'round the 

Page Sixty-three 



THE SATURDAY EVENING QUILL 



house. Glad you come, Miss Esther. Never see 
you less'n you have some work. 

Esther. Came by on my way to the office to 
see how you like your new place. Haven't seen 
you since I placed you. 

Nora (looking at Esther sharply from corner 
of eye). You ought to know better 'n what you 
done! 

Esther. I thought I was helping you by 
getting you work. 

Nora. But what kind of work? 

Esther. Don't you like domestic work? 

Nora. Umph ! That ain't it, an' you know it. 
Couldn't 'spect no better from you white folks. 

Esther. Sorry, Mrs. Lewis, if I hurt your 
feelings. 

Nora. Umph ! 

Esther. Have something else for you. I was 
planning to give it to Amy, but I'd rather for 
you to have it. A Mrs. Thome, at number 23 Bay 
Road, wants a good woman to do day's work— 

Nora (interrupting). She ain't cullud, is she, 
like that woman you sent me to before? 

Amy. Mumsy, you know they won't let 
colored people live on Bay Road. They hardly 
want them to work there. 

Esther (puzzled). What of it if she were 
colored ? 

Nora. Not stuck on workin' for cullud folks. 

Esther. Well, Mrs. Thorne is white. I 
promised her I'd have a smart woman the first 
thing this morning. The pay is three dollars a 
day, carfare, and one meal. 

Nora. Least one member of th' family can 
keep from starvin'— work myself to death 'round 
here an' get nothin' for it— 

Esther (interrupting). Go right away, 
please. (Gives Nora a piece of paper.) Take 
this note of introduction. 

Nora. Thanks, Miss Esther. How much I 
owe you for that ? 

Esther. She'll hold my commission out of 
your pay. 

Nora. Wait 'till next week 'fore you let her 
take it out, 'cause we ain't scarcely got a mouth- 
ful of food. 

Esther. I'll send her word to give it all to 
you. 

Nora (Bowing in appreciation) . Very much 
oblige! You's so considerate! The Lord will 
bless you. Is it askin' you too much to find a job 
for them chillun? (She points to Amy and Leon, 
who have been at the table all the while whisper- 
ing inaudibly and examining the papers.) He's 

Page Sixty -four 



my son-in-law now. Amy's done gone plum crazy 
an' got married since you's 'round here las'. 

Esther (looking at Amy and Leon with some 
surprise, and receiving a smile from them). Oh, 
what a nice-looking couple! (A brief pause.) 
Let them come over to my office. Maybe I can 
find something for your niece. 

Amy (indignantly). Leon promised to sup- 
port me. Didn't you, sweetums? 

Leon (standing up and lighting a cigarette). 
Not only promised. I'll work if work can be 
found. I am not the kind to loaf. 

Esther. Work for colored people is very 
scarce. The people who prefer white help will 
sometimes take colored for less wages. 

Amy. Nobody need think I'm going to do 
more work for less wages because I am not 
white. 

Nora. Your husband will have to do it, then. 

Esther. Yes, because work for men is 
scarcer. 

Nora. Women have to support men, when 
they can get work and men cain't. (Nora goes 
out into adjoining room and changes her dress.) 

Amy. Catch me doing it! 

Leon (sitting carelessly on one side of the 
table and speaking seriously.) Since we've mar- 
ried, Miss Gaines, we have gotten tough breaks. 
I have walked the streets until my feet are 
blistered, looking for something to do. What 
chance have I except in my own line? They 
wouldn't even think about giving a colored man 
a clerical position. Can't get a butler's or a 
cook's or a waiter's job, unless I am experienced. 
Everybody now is a specialist. (Taking his in- 
vention papers in his hands.) My invention is 
good, if only I could interest the proper person. 
I took it over to the plant a few months ago. 
They kept it awhile, then refused it. They said 
it was not good; but I know better. (Appeal- 
ingly.) Perhaps, Miss Gaines, you could intro- 
duce me to some of the big shoe manufacturers. 
(Shows her the papers.) I understand you have 
their ear to many things. 

Esther (looking at the papers curiously and 
interestedly). What is the name of your inven- 
tion? 

Leon. "Shoe-Leather Stitcher." It elimi- 
nates work, and saves time. 

Esther. Look at the number of people it 
would throw out of work. The reason you are 
out of work today is that there are so many 
such inventions. 



HELP WANTED 



Leon (smoking more rapidly, gesticulating 
with his hands and speaking bitterly). You're 
mistaken, Miss Gaines. It's because I had the 
misfortune of being born in this country into a 
despised race. Whatever I attempt to do suffers 
the same misfortune. Here, color is the mother 
of misfortune. 

Esther (calmly). You must not be so bitter, 
Mr. Davis. Bitterness begets bitterness ; it is 
the twin brother of failure. To show you that 
your attitude is the wrong one, Mr. Davis, I, a 
person whom you think to be against you and 
your people, will intercede in placing your inven- 
tion in one of the largest shoe plants in the city. 
Is it patented? 

Leon. The patent is pending. Nothing like 
it in the entire shoe industry. If I were a white 
man I'd be a millionaire tomorrow. (Nora 
comes in from the adjoining room. She is 
dressed to go out. She has hat and coat in her 
hands.) 

Esther. It is not the color, young man ; it is 
the individual. 

Nora. I done tol' 'im, Miss Esther, he'd 
starve waitin' on that invention. What he needs 
is work, an' not work 'liminator. Work is 
scarce 'nough as 'tis. 

Esther (getting up and going towards side 
door, left, laying papers on table as she passes). 
Looks like a good thing, Mr. Davis. In the 
meantime I'll try to get you some work. Come 
around to my office as soon as you can. I am 
certain I can place you at the shoe plant. They 
always take my recommendations. (She goes 
out.) 

Nora (putting on hat and coat). Got to hurry 
and git this job 'fore somebody else beats me to 
it. Don't y' all hang 'round here all day, spoonin.' 
Hurry down to that 'ployment office. Winter's 
mos' nigh here. Cain't live off love like you do 
in Summer. This is the las' day I'm s'portin' 
you. 'Fore I gits back, you fetch me a job or git 
yourself a new roostin' place. (Nora goes out. 
Amy and Leon lok at each other solemnly, then 
smile.) 

Leon (glancing at the papers lying on the 
table). This invention is just the thing, hon'. If 
that company I saw the other day accepts it, we 
won't be cold or hungry any more. (Amy comes 
over to Leon and stands beside him, placing her 
hands partly around his shoulders.) 

Amy. Then we can honeymoon all the time, 
can't we, sweetums? 

Leon (shaking his head). Oh, but they'll re- 
fuse me, because I'm colored. 



Amy. Color doesn't matter with a big com- 
pany like that. 

Leon. All alike. You don't know, honey; 
you're still young, innocent, inexperienced, un- 
used and unaccustomed to the prejudices of the 
white man's world. I have had bitter ones. Bit- 
ter as gall ! Sometimes, honey, my hidden feel- 
ings almost burst into angry flames. It was only 
the other day I was the sole colored applicant 
out of about fifty others for a mechanical posi- 
tion. The boss recognized me an yelled, "You," 
pointing his finger at me, "I'm speaking to you. 
You needn't stay. This is a white man's job." 

Amy. You're too reserved, too sensitive, my 
own big boy. Don't let them get away with that 
nonsense ! They don't know you're colored over 
at the place where you're trying to sell your in- 
vention, do they? 

Leon. No ; but they have an idea. 

Amy. Don't tell 'em. You can pass. Pass 
for a foreigner— a Cuban, a Mexican, a Spaniard 
— anything except an American colored man. 
Miss Esther will help you. Heard what she 
said? 

Leon (his head resting between his hands). 
That's yellow! To get away from my race. 
After all it has undergone for me. And all I 
owe it. And as much as it needs me. I must 
rise or fall with my people. My conscience! 
My pride ! Honey ! (Jumps to his feet.) Good 
God! No! 

Amy. If this keeps up, sweetums, you won't 
live to stay in your race. This is an age of in- 
dividualism. Think of your little hone}'. Pass 
and live ; or stay and starve. 

Leon (in a ..mood of thinking seriously). 
That's right. My marriage vows. I have never 
made any vows publicly to my race. I'll think 
it over. In the meantime I'd better get in the 
streets again. (Puts on his hat and coat.) You 
heard what Mumsy said. (Goes toward side 
door at left, he looks affectionately at Amy, who 
follows him.) And I remember my marriage 
vows. I feel that Miss Gaines can place me at 
the plant. 

Amy. You're forgetting something. (A pause. 
He returns and kisses her passionately.) You 
won't be away from your honey long, will you, 
sweetums? (He shakes his head and goes out. 
She stands in the door and looks longingly at 
him. She sighs.) 

Curtains 

Page Sixty -five 



THE SATURDAY EVENING QUILL 

Scene II 

The place is Esther's employment office. 
The time is about half an hour later. 

There is a door at the rear and a door at the right side. There 
is a window on one side of the room, overlooking the street. Cards 
and posters advertising for house-maids, butlers, waiters and other 
domestic help, and all kinds of labor, are hung on the walls of the 
room. As the curtains rise Esther is seen seated at her desk. She 
is looking over employment books. Juckes comes in, dressed as in 
Scene I. All the while he is in the room, standing or walking about, 
he keeps his hat on and his pipe in his mouth. He maintains an air 
of crude superiority. 



Juckes. Anything on your books this morn- 
ing? 

Esther. A good proposition to put to you. 

Juckes. That's for me to say, whether it's 
good or not. (Abruptly leaning over on desk and 
looking Esther straight in the eye.) What about 
all the work I've thrown your way? Not a cent 
from it. (A cynical laugh.) I ain't in it for my 
health. 

Esther (pushing Juckes back). We'll talk 
about that later. (Juckes slowly gets back.) A 
poor boy who has nothing to do has a marvel- 
lous invention— a new idea in sewing shoes — 

Juckes. Anything in THIS for me? 

Esther. Yes, if we can place it in a plant 
and give the poor fellow something to do to help 
his family. 

Juckes. That's right; we need workers. 
That's what I come for. Got any on hand? 

Esther. Most of the white non-union men 
are afraid to work at the plant. I can get some 
colored. 

Juckes. White and colored won't mix well. 
White men won't stand to work with colored, 

Esther (sternly). Who runs your business, 
employers or employees? 

Juckes. In a way, the workers. If we hire 
too many colored, the white quit. Then we 
can't find enough colored to fill their places. 

Esther. That's a preconceived notion. 

Juckes. Can't depend enough on the colored, 
anyway, to change. They get drunk and lay off. 
They stay from work to go to a funeral or to en- 
joy a day's drunk. 

Esther. How do you know, Mr. Juckes? 
You've never had any. t 

Juckes. That's what everybody says. 

Esther. Can't take everybody's word to de- 
termine a person's qualifications. Certainly, 
there's some bad colored, just as there's some 

Page Sixty-six 



bad white. Some good, strong, brawny colored, 
like the white. If they make profit for you and 
me, what's the difference? 

Juckes. They belong on the farms in the 
South. Too many up here. Starve 'em out, and 
they '11 have to go back. Just got enough jobs 
for our own boys. 

Esther. That's not patriotism— nor Chris- 
tianity. 

Juckes. By gad, what do I care about either ! 
Us white folks come first. Anything left, the 
niggers can have it. Time they getting some- 
thing for themselves. 

Esther (in a pleading tone). Until they're 
able, they must be given work, like any other 
class. 

Juckes. You make me think funny about 
you, Miss Esther. You can't afford in this day 
and time to be another Garrison. You might get 
worse treatment. Country ain't going to fight 
over the niggers again. Never turned you down, 
but I'll have to, this time. As a real-to-goodness 
white man, I can't stand to see no colored man 
working beside a white woman. (Goes towards 
door.) 

Esther. No white women work in the ma- 
chine department. 

Juckes (going out of door). Got to hurry. 
Bet some of them scabs quit. Be back in a few 
minutes to see what workers you have. Mean- 
time I'll look into that invention. (Juckes goes 
out. Esther continues looking over her books. A 
few seconds later Leon comes in. He extends 
his right hand to Esther. They shake hands.) 

Leon. I am here, Miss Gaines. 

Esther. And ready for work, Mr. Davis? 

Leon. If I can get any. (Pulls out his inven- 
tion papers.) All I've been able to do since I've 
been married was to work on my invention— 
and I was working on it long before I married. 



HELP WANTED 



Esther (looking over her books). The great 
difficulty is finding a machinist's position. 

Leon (in a harsh, disappointed tone). You 
mean for colored ? 

Esther (in a disconcerted manner). Er— er 
—I have no objection. I like to help the colored 
people. You must get that idea out of your 
mind. 

Leon. I can not, Miss Gaines, so long as I 
am a colored man in America and denied the 
chance to make a living because I am colored. 
What about the job at the plant you promised 
to get me, Miss Gaines ? 

Esther. I've thought it over. You wouldn't 
like the job. It's too dangerous, and the pay is 
too small. 

Leon. Anything, so long as it's work. 

Esther. Be seated, Mr. Davis. (Leon sits 
down.) I'll see whether I have anything you 
can do. (Esther begins looking over her books. 
Amy comes in, walking fast.) 

Amy (getting chair and taking seat beside 
Leon). Oh, sweetums, I'm so glad I caught you 
in time. 

Leon. Somebody wants me to work? Or 
good news about the invention? 

Amy. Neither. I don't want my sweetums to 
work too hard. 

Leon. Got to do something. You must eat 
and sleep. 

Esther (looking at Amy and speaking stern- 
ly). Sorry, Mr. Davis, all I have to offer is hard 
work. (Nora comes in. She is dressed as she 
was when she went out in Scene I.) 

Amy (standing, indignantly). My husband 
doesn't have to take anything you have to of- 
fer. He has an invention. (Leon leads Amy 
aside instantly.) 

Leon. Now, honey, you'd better keep quiet, 
or I won't be able to get anything. 

Amy. I'm your wife. I have a right to speak. 
(Leon walks away disgustedly from Amy. She 
follows.) 

Esther (astonished, to Nora). Why did you 
come back, Mrs. Lewis? 

Nora (standing up, leaning over desk and 
shaking her forefinger in Esther's face). You 
knowd where you's sending me ! 

Esther (leaning back in chair). Certainly, to 
a family who wanted good, female help. 

Nora (loudly). Yaller female help ! 

Esther. What do you mean? 

Nora (standing back a step or two, hands on 
hips and head thrown back). This white woman 
you sent me to pretended not to know what I 



come for. I told her you sent me. She said: 
"There must be some mistake. I want a white 
girl or a light-skinned colored girl." I didn't 
spare my breath in speakin' my mind: "I'm not 
to blame 'cause my daddy an' mammy wasn't 
white," I says. "I cain't help from bein' black 
no more'n you can from bein' white," I says. 
"Black is as honest as white." That's what I 
told her. (Sits down again.) I ain't particular 
about workin' for poor white trash like her no 
how. 

Esther (embarrassedly.) Oh, I'm so sorry! 

Nora. All y' all white folks alike. Don't 
give a person a good job 'cause she's black. 

Esther. I'll see if I can send you somewhere 
else, Mrs. Lewis. 

Nora. Rather starve than go to a place like 
that. (Points to Amy and Leon.) Them's two 
yaller. See if you cain't git them something to 
do. 

Esther (looking at her book, then speaking to 
Leon). Mr. Davis, there's a butler's position on 
Friend Street. (Amy whispers to Leon.) 

Leon (apparently paying no attention to 
Amy). Place for man and wife? 

Esther. Don't think so. Just a travelling 
salesman and his wife. 

Amy. He can't take a job like that without 
me. Can you, sweetums? 

Leon. What's the matter with it? I must do 
something. (Nora shows disgust by turning her 
back momentarily.) 

Amy (angrily). You married me to live with 
me, not to live with someone else. 

Esther. I have some calls for longshoremen. 

Amy (standing over the desk near Esther). 
Leon can't hurt his back lifting heavy things. 
Rather work myself. You white folks just want 
to kill all the good colored men. (Turns away.) 
Won't do it to my man. (Leon makes one or 
two steps towards desk as if to speak to Esther. 
Amy slightly pushes him back with one hand.) 
You stand back. I have something to say about 
the work you're to do. (Leon stands aghast. He 
gives a disgusted grunt, shrugs his shoulders, 
and walks away a few paces. There is complete 
silence for a few moments.) 

Esther (still looking over her books). Here's 
a call for a maid in a wealthy family. (Esther 
glances at Nora.) 

Nora. Don't look at me. Betcha they don't 
want colored. 

Leon (with a side glance at Esther). Let 
them do without them. 

Nora. We's the one that's bad off. 

Page Sixty-seven 



THE SATURDAY EVENING QUILL 



Amy. Do they furnish room? 

Esther. Yes; board, too. Don't have to 
leave the place for anything. 

Nora (to Amy). Better take that. 

Esther. Fifteen dollars a week. Thursdays 
off. 

Amy (walking farther away from desk to- 
wards window). Oh, my hubby doesn't want me 
to stay away from him so long. (Looking at 
Leon.) Do you, sweetums? Nobody to cook his 
meals and launder his clothes. (Amy begins 
looking out of windew.) 

Nora. Better get some meals to cook and 
clothes to wash, first. 

Esther (to Leon). They want men at Foss's 
Foundry. 

Leon. I don't mind trying something. The 
way I feel, I am strong enough to do anything. 

Nora. You look just like I feel— hungry. 

Amy (to Esther). What is it like? 

Esther (impatiently). Carry iron ; mostly 
pig-iron. 

Amy (excitedly). He can't blister his hands! 
It'll unfit him to handle his invention. 

Nora. Sittin' 'round holdin' hands all day, 
he'll blister somethin' else. 

Leon (to Amy). If you'll only keep quiet, 
honey. I'll have the work to do, and not you. 
(Juckes comes in. He walks up unceremoni- 
ously to the desk.) 

Amy. And I'll be the widow, and not you. 

Juckes (to Esther). Can you get your hands 
on a good machinist right away, Miss Esther? 
(Leon and Amy appear especially interested.) 
The superintendent hired several this morning. 
When they found a strike was on they got scared 
and left. 

Esther (appearing disconcerted). I think I 
can find some one. 

Nora. Got to go, Miss Esther. Cain't sit 
around an' wait for work to come to me. Just 
thought of somebody who hires black folks. See 
what you can do for them chillun, so they can 
have somewhere to stay tonight. 

Esther. Very well, Mrs. Lewis. (Nora goes 
out.) 

Juckes. See what you can do, Miss Esther. 
The work's all tied up waiting to get machinists. 
Anybody will do, so long as he knows something 
about his business. 

Esther (leaning over on her desk and looking 
Juckes directly in the eye.) What's the strike 
about, anyway, Mr. Juckes? I've heard so 
many reports. 

Juckes (glancing casually at Leon, who ap- 

Page Sixty-eight 



pears deeply interested in the conversation). 
Something's new been installed. Takes the place 
of two or three workmen. The company is will- 
ing to keep all the men for six months longer, 
but at lower wages. They won't stand to be cut. 
All the unions supporting them. 

Esther (hesitatingly, to Leon). Mr. Davis, 
a good job for you. 

Juckes (looking scornfully at Leon). No use 
sending him. Can't use colored, I told you. 

Esther (rather boldly). He's recommended 
very highly. Finished from one of the best me- 
chanical and technical schools. 

Juckes. Makes no difference if he's the 
best in the world, the boss won't use him if 
he knows he's colored. 

Leon (standing up and walking over nearer 
Juckes). Know what I think about you, 
Juckes ? 

Juckes (walking aivay from Leon con- 
temptuously). My name is Mr. Juckes; and 
what you think gets you nowhere. 

Leon (following Juckes). Some day you'll 
change your mind. A big boob like you don't 
know the Civil War is over. The sooner the 
country gets rid of the likes of you, the better. 

Juckes (still walking away from Leon and 
speaking angrily). The idea of a nigger talk- 
ing to a white man like that! That kind of 
stuff don't get you anywhere. Know what I'd 
do to you if I had you down South? (Juckes 
draws a finger across his own throat. Amy and 
Esther appear frightened. Amy leaves the win- 
dow and takes hold of Leon. Esther jumps be- 
tween Leon and Juckes.) 

Esther. You men are positively insulting! 
(Leads Juckes to the door.) Mr. Juckes, I'll 
see what I can do for you right away. 

Juckes. Do the best you can. (Cutting his 
eye hatefully at Leon.) But don't send that 
half-white nigger. (Leon makes a quick move 
towards Juckes, trying to break Amy's hold on 
him. Juckes goes out hurriendly. There is 
silence for a few seconds. Leon, with boived 
head and clenched fists, walks over slowly and 
sits down. Amy follows him.) 

Esther (taking seat at her desk). Don't let 
what he says worry you, Mr. Davis. Calm your- 
self. I'll get you something to do. (Amy sits 
near Leon. She takes a kerchief out of Leon's 
coat pocket and wipes his forehead. After a 
brief pause Leon gets up and goes over to 
Esther's desk and casually sits down on side 
of it and begins speaking to Esther.) 

Leon. You must excuse me, Miss Gaines, 



HELP WANTED 



for losing my temper in your place of business. 
He made me do it. Besides keeping me out of 
work, insulting me. More than I could stand. 
If I hadn't been in your place — well, I don't 
know what I would have done. 

Esther. Quiet your nerves, Mr. Davis, and 
let's see about getting something to do. (After a 
moment's reflection.) You do look like white, 
Mr. Davis. 

Leon. I am often mistaken. 

Amy. And he often passes without realizing 
it. 

Esther (in a retaliatory tone). Pass now and 
take this machinist's job. They'll never know 
the difference. 

Leon. Old Juckes would have a fit. He'll 
give me away. Like throwing oil on fire to 
send me around there. The way I feel won't 
do for us two to meet, Miss Gaines. Perhaps 
I'd live longer by starving. 

Esther. He's a foreman in the yard. He'll 
never see you. Oh, but do you belong to the 
union ? 

Leon. In my application I stated I was 
colored, and was refused. I shall always believe 
old Juckes was to blame. 

Esther. All the better, in this case, that you 
are not a union man. 

• Amy. Any danger in being a strike-breaker? 
Can't let my hubb}' get hurt. Can I, sweetums? 

Leon. Our present plight is graver than that. 



Esther. They need men. They'll protect 
you. 

Leon. My only objection, Miss Gaines, is 
that it goes against the grain to betray myself. 
But I must do something. (To Amy.) Our last 
day with Mumsy, honey, if I don't get some 
work. I'll take a chance. That's all life is, 
chance. 

Amy. But what about your invention? 

Esther (entreatingly). But, madam, you 
can't eat his invention, now. 

Leon (pleadingly). It must wait for a while. 

Amy (angrily). I hope I didn't marry an old 
machinist. 

Leon. Be reasonable sometimes, honey ! 

Amy. Reasonable, nothing! Obey white 
folks before you will me ! They don't mean 
you any good. You can see she wants you 
killed. (Goes hurriedly towards door.) I'll get 
me a job and support myself. (She goes out 
hurriedly.) 

Esther (handing Leon a card). This is your 
card of introduction to the superintendent of 
the works. Pull your cap down over your eyes 
so no one will recognize you. Go around the 
side entrance so old Juckes won't see you. 

Leon (putting his invention papers securely 
in his coat pocket and pulling up top coat col- 
lar). You're big-hearted, Miss Gaines. (He 
pulls cap down over his eyes and goes out.) 

CURTAINS 



Scene III 

The time is the late afternoon of the same day. 
Scene is the same as Scene I 

As the curtains rise Amy is seen lying on the cot. She is covered 
with a blanket, and is asleep. Nora, who is dressed as in Scene II, 
comes in from the street. She walks as if she is very tired. At first 
Nora drops down in a chair near the table ; then she sits thinking 
for a few moments. She shakes her head, sighs, glances at the pages 
of the newspaper which is still lying on the table, then throws it 
aside. She gets up and takes off her hat and coat. She goes over to 
the shelf, pours from the pitcher a glass of water, ivhich she drinks. 
She suddenly espies Amy lying on the cot and goes over to her. 



Nora (shaking Amy). What you layin' here 
for? 

Amy (arousing and yawning). Humph! 

Nora. What you doin' sleepin', this time 
o' day. 

Amy (stretching lazily). Nothin' else to do. 

Nora. Thought you got a job from Miss 
Esther ! 



Amy (sitting on side of cot. She is wearing a 
silk negligee). This little mamma isn't going 
to kill herself working. 

Nora. Jus' as well die workin' as die starvin'. 
You can git somethin' for workin'. 

Amy (walking lazily across the room to the 
window). I'll do neither, so long as I got a 
good daddy. 

Page Sixty-nine 



THE SATURDAY EVENING QUILL 



Nora (in astonishment). The nerve 1 Marry 
a man to lay up on him ! 

Amy (looking out the window). What do you 
think I married him for? 

Nora. To starve you to death. But he won't 
do it in this house. 

Amy. Don't be silly, Mumsy. He's working, 
now. 

Nora. Peddlin' that no-count invention? 

Amy (taking a dress which is lying on a chair 
near window and putting it on). At the shoe 
factory. He has a swell job. Seventy-five per 
—five and a half days a week. 

Nora. That's a white man's job. 

Amy. That's what they think he is. 

Nora. Old Juckes knows him. The way he 
hates colored folks, Leon won't last no time. 

Amy. Juckes works in a different department. 
(Amy begins looking out of window again. Her 
interest in what is going on on the outside grows 
deeper and deeper). 

Nora. Nothin' too mean for old Juckes to do, 
if he finds out. How did Leon git such a job? 

Amy. He's a strike-breaker. 

Nora (with a sigh of relief). Just in time to 
break our hungry strike. What did they strike 
this time for? 

Amy. Their wages were cut on account of 
some old invention. 

Nora. Scarce as work is they's fools for quit- 
tin'. What is they gittin' whilst they's quittin'? 
They's gittin' hungry— an' somebody else in their 
place. Hope Leon won't go an' turn fool. Let 
me git a good job. No such luck for a poor 
cullud person, 'cept he's a strike-breaker or is 
yaller an' can pass. When white folks fall out 
us cullud folks gits our just deserts. (She 
pauses.) Why don't you be gittin' your hus- 
band's supper? Mos' nigh time for him to come 
home. 

Amy (looking more intently out of window). 
Look at the men gathering over there ! 

Nora (glancing out the window). He can't 
eat them men. 

Amy. Nothing here to cook. (She runs into 
adjoining room.) 

Nora. What you do ? Eat it all up ? (Look- 
ing around in different food utensils on the 
shelf.) No meal t— No flour I— No meat!— No 
grits I— No peas!— No Haters !— No coffee I— 
(Stands in the center of the room and shows dis- 
couragement.) No job I— NO NOTHING! 

Amy (coming out of adjoining room, dressed 
for the street). Mumsy, I'm going out to see 
what's the disturbance's about. The strikers are 
Page Seventy 



surging on the plant! Oh, lots of excitement! 
Got to see about Leon. (Putting powder on 
nose and face as fast as she can.) 

Nora. Quittin' time. Bound to be trouble 1 
The Governor had to call out the soldiers the last 
time. Foreigners takin' our jobs. Don't blame 
'em for strikin'. What good can you do? You 
too giddy! (Amy runs out. Nora goes over to 
the window and looks out. She puts on her coat 
and hat. As she starts out of the side door, left, 
she meets Amy and Esther coming in supporting 
Leon, who appears badly injured. The noise of 
the crowd may be heard a little distance from 
the house. Amy and Esther are apparently 
overburdened by the weight of Leon's body.) 

Nora (excitedly). What's the matter? (Esther 
waves her hand at Nora to keep quiet. They lay 
Leon on the cot. He is heard to give frequent 
distressing groans and murmurs. Amy gets a 
cloth, dampens it with water which she pours 
out of the pitcher, and wipes Leon's face, neck 
and forehead.) 

Esther. Take off his shoes, Mrs. Lewis. 
(Nora does so. A few seconds later Juckes comes 
in brusquely. He looks almost fiendish in his 
appearance. He approaches the cot hastily.). 

Juckes (taking hold of Esther's arm, rough- 
ly). What you butt in for? 

Esther (jerking away instantly). What do 
you mean? Have you lost your mind? (To 
Nora.) Bring some water in a basin, Mrs. Lewis. 
(Nora does so.) 

Juckes (loudly). The idea of a white woman 
— er— you almost got killed. You ought to stay 
in your office and mind your own business. Told 
you not to send him over there. Can't put 
nothing over on me. I'm the best watchman 
the company could have found to catch a skunk 
like him, sneaking in. 

Esther (still attending Leon and looking up 
at Juckes). Think I'd stand and see him mur- 
dered? I saw from my office window what was 
being done to him. (Juckes stands closer to her 
in a threatening manner.) You wouldn't strike 
me. You're too big a coward. 

Juckes (stepping back). The way you acting 
you must be colored yourself. 

Esther (angrily). What if I am? 

Juckes (going towards side door, left). Well, 
you won't have no employment office long. I'll 
see to that ! What you take us white folks for ? 
We run this town. Niggers don't. 

Esther (starting at Juckes with a cutting 
eye). Other ways of making a living. 



FANCIES 



Juckes (loudly). Look for it, then— and not 
around here, either. (Juckes goes out. Esther 
gives her complete attention to Leon.) 

Nora (going up to Esther and looking her 
surprisingly in the eye). Miss Esther, I didn't 
know you's cullud! 

Esther (still attending Leon). One-eighth — 

Nora (interrupting). Don't blame you for 
passin' if you can git more out o' it. Wish some- 
times I could pass. (Looking at herself.) Guess 
no chance, though. 

Esther. Feel mighty guilty sometimes. 
(Leaning closer to Leon, who is murmuring au- 
dibly.) What did he say, Mrs. Davis? 

Amy. Something about his invention. (Es- 
ther leans closer to Leon as he mutters.) 

Nora (getting closer to Leon). The poor boy 
ain't fit to work for nobody for a long time. 
Cain't throw him out, though. (Turns and 
walks a jew steps away.) Don't know what we's 
goin' to do now. 

Esther. Don't worry, Mrs. Lewis. I'll lend 
you money until you get work. 

Nora (stepping up and throwing one arm 
forcibly around Esther's neck. Esther has to bal- 
ance herself.) Thanks, Miss Esther. You's a 
angel ! What's he sayin' ? 

Esther. His invention works. They stole 
it and are using it at the shoe factory— workers 
and strikers found out he's colored and tried to 
kill him. Had to run and fight through for his 
life. The company found out he's the inventor 
of the shoe-machine, and the officers also tried 



to get him out of the way. That's the trouble 
with old Juckes. That's why he didn't want me 
to have anything to do with Mr. Davis. Tried 
to lay it to something else— He appears to be 
growing weaker. 

Amy. Just because of an old job. 

Nora. Just because he's cullud. 

Amy. Darn the work! 

Nora (in an ironical tone). What did he 
marry you for? 

Esther (leaving Leon and going toward side 
door, left). He must have a doctor. 

Nora (getting ready to go out). Better let 
me git one, Miss Esther. What baout your 
'ployment office? People want jobs. 

Esther. I can get a doctor quicker. People 
and jobs can wait. (Esther goes out.) 

Amy. Hang the jobs ! Let her get the doctor. 
We'll reimburse her out of the money we get 
from suing that old company for stealing the 
invention. Won't we, sweetums? 

Nora (pushing Amy aside and taking her posi- 
tion beside Leon). Give me that rag ! Y' ain't doin' 
it right. (Amy gives her cloth and moves back.) 
Here, wet the rag. (Amy does so.) This boy's 
sho' hurt bad. (To Amy.) You have to work, 
now. (Glancing up at newspaper lying on table.) 
Heap o' calls in that paper for cooks, dishwash- 
ers an' washwomen. (Amy throws up her head.) 
Don't turn up your nose an' this boy nearly dead 
tryin' to make a livin' for you. (As the curtains 
fall Nora is leaning over Leon bathing his 
wounds. Amy is helping by wetting the cloth.) 



Fancies 

White foamy waves race 
Up brown sandy beach 
Incessantly . . . 
Long fingers, pointing 
Paths unknown to man, 
Hastily retrace 
Into oblivion 
Cradled in ebbing tide. 

Dreams, idle dreams race 

Up to higher things 

Incessantly . . . 

Sky fancies, pointing 

Paths rarely viewed by man, 

Hastily retrace 

Into oblivion 

Cradled in slumbering soul. 

Earl Lawson Sydnor. 



Page Seventy -one 



A Group of Poems 



By ALICE E. FURLONG 



When Love Is Laid Away 

That sudden, short, sharp stab of bitter pain, 

When love is laid away forevermore 1 

Ah, who can say he'll never feel pain 

When Love is laid away forevermore? 

Whose love sleeps quietest through sun and rain, 

Through whose sad door shall Love come nevermore- 

Will he dare say he'll never feel again 

When Love is laid away forevermore? 



Riches and Poverty 

Some have, but they may never hold, alas. 

Which would you be? 

Someone who a resounding title has, 

Without security? 

Or would you rather go your way alone, 

In happiness; 

And, having nothing you may call your own, 

Still all possess? 



The Seas Warning 

Dear, eager child, upon my shining shore, 
With questing, outstretched hands, 
Seek not the secret of the breaker's roar, 
But stay you safe upon the sands. 



Suicide 



Poor, eager heart, so willing all to give! 
Soon shall you know 

How short a time such ardent love can live 
And all bestow. 



Unfulfillment 



A thrill, a softly spoken word, a kiss ; 
A perfect, golden hour of Love's own's bliss ; 
An anguished moan, a broken cry of pain; 
And weary years of yearning — just for this! 



Awaiting 



I shall be gone, my Love, before you find me, 
So long, so long the day till dreams come true; 
But I shall leave a blazoned trail behind me, 
Clearly defined, to point the way for you. 
And when the earthly things that now enthrall you 
Unbind their clinging tendrils, one by one, 
Then from some far off, lonely peak I'll call you 
So you may climb to rest — when strife is done. 



Page Seventy-two 



Blind Alley 

By ALVIRA HAZZARD 




ARRIE MORRIS had received two 
telephone calls for Betts Carlen. "The 
little fool," she grumbled as she 
clamped down the receiver. "Tryin' to 
be so dickty. Reformin' a gutter snipe 
like Phil Howard, what ain't got the second 
shirt to his back, and turnin' down a man's man 
like Jake Smith. God!" She paused before 
the mirror as she went back into the room. Her 
grayish, bleached face was thickly coated with 
cream, and its flat nose broadened as she grinned. 
"Lord," she told her reflection, "if I had a 
chance at Jake, what I could do with some of 
his herbs is nobody's business! If he calls up 
about her again, I'll try my tech on him." 
Lighting a cigarette, she tumbled into bed again, 
and lay on her back blowing heavy puffs of 
smoke to the ceiling. 

She had just begun to speculate on the luck 
she would have that night, on the avenue at the 
end of her narrow street, when the telephone 
rang again. She started to answer, then changed 
her mind. Phil wouldn't get any message from 
his dickty girl by Carrie's answering the tele- 
phone again. She had sent him down one blind 
alley, but here he was again. She finished the 
cigarette with several vigorous puffs, then 
turned her face to the wall. 

Betts Carlen sat by the window in the tiny 
room on the fourth floor of Mercy Hospital. She 
had been unpacking her worn straw suitcase, but 
as the hands of the clock pointed to eleven forty- 
five, she sat back in the chair and closed her 
eyes. "Now," she thought, "he's putting the 
nickel in the slot. Now Carrie is giving him my 
message. He's sorry not to hear my voice, but 
he's glad, too. She's told him, 'at the old place,' 
but won't it be a long wait until seven-thirty!" 
She was happy enough to cry. Phil would be 
happy, too, knowing she had left Jake Smith's 
restaurant. No more smutty remarks in her 
ears; no more sensuous eyes on her rounded 
body ; no more unwelcome attentions from Jake. 
Great feeling! 

Betts travelled through the future weeks in 
leaps and jumps. Maybe if she went to night 
school and got a certificate she could be a real 
nurse and not just a ward maid: a nurse in a 



spotless white dress and cap, and she'd be called 
Miss Carlen. The thought of it was overwhelm- 
ing. 

Rocking back and forth with her little hands 
clasped tightly in her lap to keep them from 
fluttering, Betts felt sure that no girl in the 
whole of New York would be happier than she. 

Twenty minutes, and three more nickels, but 
no answering voice from the other end of the 
wire. Phil snatched his battered straw hat and 
stumbled out of the house. 

"Perhaps it's all a dream," he muttered. "But 
she promised to be in and lookin' for my call. 
Maybe I don't know no Betts Carlen— ain't 
even a colored name . . . Carlen. I wasn't 
foolin,' though, Lord. Honest, I wasn't. I love 
that kid more than my mammy. God, to see her 
flash them eyes, and show them teeth, and flip 
her hair out of her eyes with one little toss of 
the head ! And I've only knowed her two weeks. 
But look at the change in me." 

With each ejaculation Phil quickened his pace. 
He was trotting along, half praying, half 
sobbing. The day was hot, and heavy drops 
of sweat stood out on his face. But he didn't 
mind them; he didn't mind the grins of the 
people who were amused to see him hurrying 
so absently down a busy street in the heat of a 
summer day. Ordinarily his pleasant face was 
a smooth, ruddy brown, but today it was grim 
and ashy. He had a hunch — he was afraid. 

The awful dread, that the wonderful new girl 
friend might be lost to him before he had told 
all his well-laid plans for her happiness, gave 
him strength to run on and on. He might have 
taken the subway, but involuntarily he went the 
longest way, the way he and Betts had wandered 
on the mild evenings after the show. 

At last he turned into the narrow street. In 
answer to his frantic ring, a head tied in a 
turkish towel popped out of an upper window. 
Before Phil could shout his question, a shrill 
voice, not new to him, met his upturned ear. 

"You no-count Phil Howard," it rasped. "You 
got your nerve getting me out of bed. If you're 
lookin' for Betts, you're out of luck." 

"The devil ! " The words were out before 
he could check them. 

Page Seventy-three 



THE SATURDAY EVENING QUILL 



"The devil must be you, Phil," she screamed 
at him. "But, anyway, I told Betts all about 
you and she's through." 

"Listen, you, Carrie," he shouted, approach- 
ing her as closely as he could under the window. 
"I'd give my right hand for that kid. I'm on 
the square with her, so help me God. Carrie, 
you— you ain't done this out of jealousy?" 

"Huh! Jealous of who and what?" She 
slammed the window down. 

Phil's feet took him to his erstwhile favorite 
haunt. He didn't want to go. He had boasted 
the day before of his new girl, his new job, and 
his new outlook. Some of the old gang had 
heard him, and had laughed. He wore an evil 
frown as he dug his hands into the pockets of 
his coat, and loped into Jackson's Pool and 
Billiard Palace. 

The place was vile with fetid smoke and the 
odor of perspiration. Phil, sprawled in a chair 
near the door, viewed with a disgusted smirk the 
pals he had so lately shaken. A much-used 
record was wobbling on an ancient phonograph 
in the far corner of the room. From its scratched 
surface, and through the huge wooden horn 
came a suggestive blues, "My b-a-a-by don't 
love nobody but me-e-e." 

Bud Bemis, a gentleman in appearance, cool 
and nonchalant in a crisp Palm Beach suit, stood 
with Slim Lawlor, a squeaky-voiced "numbers" 
man. Ever so often they punctuated their 
animated conversation with bursts of convul- 
sive laughter. 

Bending over the tables which stood down 
the center of the room were a dozen men of as 
many shades of complexion. 



Phil had nothing to fear from this group. But 
the keen eye of Half-Pint Williams took in his 
plight at a glance. He swung out of his swivel 
chair and pushed it under the desk. Half-Pint 
was the manager. Palmer Jackson, the owner, 
seldom graced the Pool and Billiard Palace with 
his pompus presence, though everyone knew he 
made a comfortable living out of its proceeds. 

Half-Pint managed well. Dwarfed, black as 
a hole, shrewd as a diplomat, he was king in 
his swivel chair. His beady, blood-shot eyes 
and his prominent red nostrils made him look 
like some odd beast. Many a man had cause to 
say that no panther was wilder, nor more cer- 
tain to tear its victim to bits, than was Half- 
Pint Williams when he was on a rampage. Yet 
he was popular— because the burliest giant 
feared him. 

Grinning and swinging his heavy, hairy hands 
that reached nearly to his knees, Half-Pint 
trotted to the phonograph and changed the 
record : 

"My sweetie went away, 

"And she didn't say where . . . ." 

Still chuckling, the man edged up to Phil. 
"Your case, eh, buddy," he jeered. 

A new Phil, fired with rage and pent-up 
emotion, struck the astonished Half- Pint an 
echoing blow on the chin. The room was 
electrified ; shades of a shooting, and the wagon ! 
But with the coolness and disdain of a victorious 
gladiator, Phil shook off the dust of Jackson's 
Palace before the shock had passed. There was 
hope in the afternoon air. 

"Gawd-a-mighty," spat one of the men, resum- 
ing his game, "I didn't think he had the guts 1 " 



/ See You 

I see you 

Standing in the garden 
With a lily in your hand. 
It is drooping 
Like the half-moons 
Of your eyes. 
My love is a rose 
I cast at your feet. 
Lift it from the earth 
That you may inhale 
Us delicate fragrance. 
It is the essence 
Of my soul. 

Edythe Mae Gordon. 



Page Seventy-four 



Burial of the Young Love 



Weep not, 

You who love her. 

Place your flowers 
Above her 
And go your way. 
Only I shall stay. 

After you have gone 
With grief in your hearts, 
I will remove the flowers 
You laid above her. 
Yes, I who love her. 

Do not weep, 
Friends and lovers. 

(Oh, the scent of flowers in the air ! 
Oh, the beauty of her body there! ) 

Gently now lay your flowers down. 

When the last mourner has gone 

And I have torn 

Each flower; 

When the last mourner has gone 

And I have tossed !$Z.yL 

Broken stems and flower heads 

To the winds . . . ah! . . . 

I will gather withered leaves . . . 

I will scatter withered leaves there. 

Friends and lovers, 
Do not weep. 

Gently lay your flowers down . . . 
Gently, now, lay your flowers down. 

Waring Cuney. 



/ Am Not Proud 

I am not proud that I am bold 
Or proud that I am black. 
Color was given me as a gage 
And boldness came with that. 



Helene Johnson. 

Page Seventy-five 



Dust to Dust 

When your dust calls to my dust 
From 'cross the vaulted years, 
Will souls be steeped in sorrow 
Or will love master fears ? 

When your dust sings to my dust 
With each companion cell, 
What matter tint or color 
As side by side we dwell? 

When your dust blends with my dust, 
As, crumbling, falls each tomb, 
Shall your soul mete to my soul 
A segregated doom? 

You lift your head in glory 
And pass me by with scorn; 
Yet who shall ken your story 
In some far-futured morn? 

What vain, deceiving science 
Shall boastful forms adjust? 
What art shall trace a diff'rence 
Where earth clings, — dust to dust ? 

Joshua H. Jones, Jr. 



Remember Not 

Remember not the promises we made 

In this same garden many moons ago. 

You must forget them. I would have it so. 

Old vows are like old flowers as they fade 

And vaguely vanish in a feeble death. 

There is no reason why your hands should clutch 

At pretty yesterdays. There is not much 

Of beauty in me now. And though my breath 

Is quick, my body sentient, my heart 

Attuned to romance as before, you must 

Not, through mistaken chivalry, pretend 

To love me still. There is no mortal art 

Can overcome Time's deep, corroding rust. 

Let Love's beginning expiate Love's end. 

Helene Johnson. 



Young Love 

Let my hair hang 

Upon my shoulders. 

Weave a wreath of jasmine 

Into its strands. 

Kiss each blossom, and promise 

You'll love me always. 

Then I'll bind my hair 

Tight about my head 

To hold your love secure. 

Edythe Mae Gordon. 



Page Seventy-six 



Is the Negro Happy? 

By ROSCOE WRIGHT 




HE author of a recent widely-read book 
of African travel makes the following 
inference concerning a certain tribe in 
Africa : 
"They sing: therefore, they must be 
happy." 

Turning from Africa to America, we find that 
happiness, in these United States, is likewise 
regarded as a cardinal virtue of the black man's 
character. 

Inasmuch as the Negro is a confirmed meli- 
orist, he is considered to be a happy creature: 
the Negro continually looks forward to a better 
day. This spirit of optimism has kept the Afra- 
merican afloat while he has drifted, lashed by 
the waves of race-hatred and contempt, borne 
on by time and circumstance to his sought-for 
goal. Dr. W. E. B. DuBois, the protagonist of 
Negro intellectuals, has wisely reminded his race 
that 

Nothing is more dangerous than unintelli- 
gent optimism, childish faith in the triumph of 
good, the "God's-in-His-heaven" attitude as- 
sumed because one is too lazy to be worried. 

There is, among Negroes, far more "unintelligent 
optimism" than there is of the intelligent brand. 
Intelligent Negroes are more pessimistic than 
their duller brethren; they are the less happy, 
and they feel the prick of prejudice more. 

The average Negro pretends to be happy when 
he isn't. He does this because he is born con- 
formist. The white man wishes the Negro to be 
happy, and, presto! the Negro becomes happy. 
The conscience of the white man is somewhat 
salved by the smile on the black man's face or 
the laugh from the black man's lips. In the 
South Negroes who display a stolid, matter-of- 
act attitude are regarded as "impudent niggers." 
idividual Southerners have been heard to say, 
«. don't want no surly niggers around me, Sah ! " 
\ey don't. Even the Northerner prefers his 
groes smiling. The Negro knows of this at- 
ude. He tries, by acting pleasant, to make 
self generally agreeable, 
vin Cobb has noted that "The Negro is the 
sensitive and secretive of all human beings." 
tie Gordon, in a recent magazine article, 
hat "he [the Negro] has become sensitive, 
've, and hypocritical." E. B. Reuter cor- 
tes these assertions by stating, in his book, 



"The American Race Problem," that "Extreme 
sensitiveness is everywhere characteristic of the 
[Negro] race in America. You ask, "What has 
this to do with happiness?" One answer is that 
the black man, being indubitably secretive, at- 
tempts to mask his true emotions from the white 
man. This applies to happiness as well as to 
other emotional qualities. 

In the army I had a blues-singing black buddy 
who hummed, "I got the blues an' I'm too damn' 
mean to cry." He meant it. There are numer- 
ous Negroes (most Negroes, in fact) who, al- 
though disgusted with the vicissitudes of life, are 
too mean, i. e., too stubborn, too proud, to let 
the white man know that they are other than 
happy. 

On inquiring of the average Negro's health, 
such an answer as "I feel fine" (or "right smart"), 
thank you," will be elicited. Sometimes you 
may get "fair" ("tolahble," "fair to middlin," or 
"middlin, considerin"), for an answer. Such 
a reply as "bad" (or "poh'ly") is seldom given: 
when a Negro says "poh'ly" he is about ready 
for extreme unction. Not often will a Negro say 
to a white man, who is not a physician, that he 
feels "rotten," "punk," or "damned wretched," 
as the case may be : if he did, he might be con- 
sidered unhappy! 

The Negro is being denied so many rights and 
privileges that he fails to realize that it is Ms 
privilege to pursue unhappiness, should he choose 
to chase it instead of happiness. His idea is to 
"grin and bear it." This, in itself, accounts for 
the fact that the average black man, whenever 
addressed by a white man, habitually grins. 
This grin has been mistaken for a sign of good 
nature; but, rather, it is a sign of truce— of 
respect for superior odds. The black man grins 
for the same reason that the Great Dane wags 
his tail. 

II 

Persons who think that modern Negroes are 
as happy as their predecessors of the early nine- 
teenth century are liable, in time, to find them- 
selves in error. In days of slavery the Negro 
was, to a great extent, more light-hearted than 
he is today. He hadn't then so much sense 
as now, and his life wasn't so complex. E. H. 

Page Seventy-seven 



THE SATURDAY EVENING QUILL 



Randle, a Southerner, writing of southern Negro 

characteristics, said: 

As a race the Negroes were more contented, 
happier, made more progress in morality and 
practical knowledge, were better fed, better de- 
veloped, physically and mentally, were more 
elevated in spirit, had fewer troubles and more 
pleasures, in slavery, than in freedom; . . . 

Although much of the foregoing is buncombe, 
the blacks were, nevertheless, seemingly happy. 
Ante-bellum observations, or descriptions of 
slaves and slavery, always contained allusions as 
to how happy the slaves were. Reviewing the 
songs of Stephen Foster and kindred sentimen- 
talists, we find such phrases as, " 'tis summer and 
the darkies are gay." 

"Dixie," the Southerner's dithyramb of praise, 
implies that Negroes were quite happy in the 
land of cotton. 

It is rather ironical that such happy persons 
could have handed on to us such sorrowful melo- 
dies as some of the Negro spirituals are. Think 
of this: 

"Nobody knows de trubble I'se seen" ; 
or this, 

"Po' mournah, you shall be free, 
When de good old great day come" ; 
or this, 

"Befo' I'd be a slave, 
I'd be buried in ma grave, 
An' go home to be happy an' be free" ; 
or, lastly, this, 

"Bye and bye, bye and bye 
I'm gonna rest this weary load" — 

and draw your own conclusions. 

No fair-minded Negro will hesitate to admit 
that the Emancipation brought increased re- 
sponsibilities. The Negro, freed, was thrown on 
his own; his life grew more complicated; his 
contacts more varied: hence, happiness was less- 
ened and discontent increased. The freedman 
expected bread and got a stone; he expected 
heaven and got hell. Race friction increased. 
E. B. Reuter says of the blacks, during this and 
subsequent periods: 

As Negroes outgrew the grosser forms of 
their slave psychology, they developed an op- 
pression psychosis and chafed against the 
racial status as defined in custom. As wealth 
and literacy increased they grew more and more 
restless. 

They became increasingly resentful of abuse, 
more unwilling to submit to discrimination, 
more disposed to protest against mistreatment, 
and to insist upon their legal rights. 

All the while white folk, however, went on 
thinking that black folk were happy. Countless 

Page Seventy-eight 



"coon" songs in vogue near the close of the 
nineteenth century all held the nigger up as being 
indeed a most idiotically carefree person. 

III. 

In any age popular songs are indicative of the 
popular fancy. They are the vox populi in 
lighter vein. Thus, in the twentieth century, 
there came a vogue of "mammy songs." Here are 
two samples taken ad lib from them, 



and, 



"Banjos humming, darkies strumming' 
'Banjos ringing, darkies singing." 



Such gleeful gush from Tin-Pan Alley connoted 
much cheer on the part of the darkies. 

This concept of a Southland dense with de- 
lighted darkies still seems to prevail, in spite of 
its absurdity. White persons— of Northern 
cities, too,— think of the Negro residential sec- 
tions as places where joy reigns supreme and 
unalloyed. Carl Van Vechten titled his novel of 
Harlem life "Nigger Heaven." He thus shrewdly 
implied that this community was a heaven, "a 
place of supreme happiness and great comfort." 
Such an implication is largely a matter of super- 
ficial observation. Many other writers, among 
them Roark Bradford, Octavus Roy Cohen, and 
Hugh Wiley (all of whom should know better), 
insinuate through their stories that the Negro 
is a clown and a buffoon, and is as happy as a 
fool. However, a few writers like DuBose Hey- 
wood, E. C. L. Adams, T. S. Stribling, Paul 
Green, and Julia Peterkin have had vision enough 
to realize that there is much tragedy as well as 
comedy in Negro life. 

There are, of course, some happy Negroes ex- 
tant. There are many Negroes whose lives are 
replete with bliss and sunshine (sometimes moon- 
shine). Among the lower-class, less intellectual 
Negroes, there are thousands of that kind. As 
we ascend the Negro social scale, the number of 
happy Negroes rapidly approaches zero. Among 
the exceptional cases, we find Zora Neale Hurs- 
ton, a Negro woman writer of distinction. Not 
so long ago she proclaimed in the World To- 
morrow : 

. . . But I am not tragically colored. There 
is no great sorrow dammed up in my soul, nor 
lurking behind my eyes. I do not mind at all. 
I do not belong to the sobbing school of Negro- 
hood who holds that nature somehow has given 
them a lowdown dirty deal and whose feelings 
are all hurt about it. 

Miss Hurston's attitude is indeed admirable, 
but the average intelligent Negro finds difficulty 



IS THE NEGRO HAPPY? 



in assuming it. Although the educated colored 
man has outgrown the idea that "nature has 
given him a lowdown dirty deal," he seems un- 
able to outgrow the idea that, on the whole, 
human nature — white human nature— has given 
him such a deal. 

IV. 

Happiness is, of itself, abstract. Moreover, it 
is a variable state of being. Therefore we find 
some Negroes happy and others equally unhappy 
under identical circumstances. A Harlem intel- 
lectual would chafe under the treatment ac- 
corded, say, a Mississippi levee roustabout: the 
former would be most unhappy, while the latter 
would probably remain unruffled. 

The great mass of American Negroes are sub- 
cutaneously unhappy. They are discontented 
and dissatisfied with things as they are. This 
feeling is so recondite as to be almost entirely 
unobserved by those who pay but casual atten- 
tion to the black man and his various moods. 
Frank L. Schoell, writing on "La Question Des 
Noirs Aux Etats-Unis," says: 

Que le negre ne soit pas encore satisfait 
quand on lui fait une premiere concession, il 
n'ya la rien pour surprendre. D'autre part, les 
noirs sont au fond si compietement americanises, 
l'ideal qu'ils appellant de leurs voeux est si 
identiquement celui de Lincoln et de la constitu- 
tion americaine, que le jour ou ils auront obtenu 
le mesure de justice sociale a laquelle a droit le 
proletariat blane, lere de revindications de race 
noire en tant que noire sera logiquement close. 

If we but scan the fields of Negro life and 
letters, it is obvious that the Negro is not yet 
satisfied. Propaganda is an outstanding char- 
acteristic of Negro literary expression. The 
writings of the modern Negro are saturated with 
protest and a general tone of unhappiness. Let 
me offer the following lachrymose effusions of 
some representative Negro poets. 

Exhibit A: 

By AQUAH LALULAH 

Why do the bards of black folk 
Sing grief brushed over with gladness? 
Because God sculptured the soul of the race 
In a moment of wistful sadness." 



Exhibit B 



By GRACE P. WHITE 



But yes, you say, Sambo does laugh, 
About his work every morning, 
Liza still sings o'er the kitchen stove, 
Baking the rolls, in the morning. 



But Sambo's shout and Liza's song 
Are different now, my brother. 
He shouts to hide the hurt in his heart 
She sings, a pain to smother. 

These just-quoted stanzas were taken at random 
from the Crisis. They speak for themselves and 
need no comment from me. 

Negro novelists, like the poets, seek an outlet 
through the type of writing that has come to be 
known as "the literature of escape." Some, as 
Dr. W. E. B. Du Bois has done in The Dark Prin- 
cess, seek to escape from sorrow and reality via 
romanticism. Other Negro authors, far more 
modernistic in temperament and technique, seek 
an escape from sorrow and reality through the 
"new realism." An example of this sort is found 
in the sordid realism of Claude McKay's "Home 
to Harlem." Burton Rascoe, reviewing this novel 
in the Bookman, says that "Out of his individual 
pain, Claude McKay has fashioned his lyrics; 
and out of his impersonal sorrow he has written 
a fine novel." 

The Negro press may be rightly taken as a 
mirror of Negro life— at least, it should be. Ac- 
cording to E. Franklin Frazier, in Current His- 
tory, "The potential influence of the Negro news- 
paper is indicated by the fact that the aggregate 
circulation of three leading Negro weeklies, the 
Chicago Defender, the ^Pittsburgh Courier and 
the Baltimore Afro-American, is about a half 
million." 

Such enormous circulation signifies that the 
Negro press must be held in high esteem by its 
readers. 

It is a curious fact that the press of a sup- 
posedly happy people should assume an attitude 
of cynicism and pessimism. But the following 
statement by Weatherford in "The Negro from 
Africa to America" may well serve as a straw to 
point the wind's true directions. He says that, 
"Having scanned a great many Negro papers, I 
have come to the conclusion that there is much 
more bitterness over injustice and lynching than 
most white people know." 

Magazines of many kinds have been published 
by Negroes. Most of these periodicals have been 
very short-lived. However, several are still in 
existence, among them The Crisis, and Oppor- 
tunity. Both are well-edited, meaty magazines, 
judged by any standard. But neither is other 
than serious in subject matter. No Negro has, 
as yet, seen fit to establish a magazine of humor 
such as Life or Judge. If there were so much 
light-heartedness among American black folk, is 

Page Seventy-nine 



THE SATURDAY EVENING QUILL 



it not reasonable to think that some of it would 
find its way into their magazines? The colored 
editor of a recently established illustrated feature 
and magazine section (syndicated among twenty 
Negro weekly newspapers), read manuscripts 
for four months. He then wrote to prospective 
contributors : "Out of the scores of stories so far 
submitted to us, not a half-dozen have been 
humorous! Have our race writers no sense of 
humor ?" 



There are far more external signs of happiness 
in Negro life than there are in Negro letters. On 
close analysis it is revealed that much of this ap- 
parent happiness is make-believe. Negroes have 
more fraternal organizations, in proportion to 
their numbers, than any other people. The serio- 
comic ceremonies of the "Sons and Daughters of 
I Will Arise," and the more austere rites of black 
Freemasons, are alike in one respect— they are 
the Negro's means of seeking escape from the 
actualities of a life that is not to his liking. 

It was Boris Sidis, I believe, who said that 
"religion is an outgrowth of the play instinct." 
The Negro is profoundly religious. His extreme 
zeal for the worship of God is well known. But 
the common aim of all his religious denomina- 
tions, be it in the decorous St. Philip's Episcopal 
Church of Harlem, or the hilarious "Holy Roll- 
ers" of Charleston, South Carolina, is to get away 



from the fact that he is the underdog. Here 
again is an attempt to escape! 

Underlying Negro group and family life, there 
is a sub-stratum of racial discontent and unhap- 
piness. Someone has observed that "any time 
two or more Negroes meet and converse, their 
conversation, as a rule, finally degenerates into a 
discussion of how badly they are being treated." 

Negro social life is replete with activity. There 
are always innumerable proms, parties, and 
picnics being given. These diversions are often 
entered into with an utter lack of restraint. In 
their social functions they are temporarily the 
w.k. "happy niggers." In gay Harlem gatherings 
—such as would make the fingers of Van Vechten 
or Covarrubias itch for a pencil— the gin is re- 
sponsible for much of the geniality, and the high- 
ball for much of the happiness; when the song 
is ended and the liquor ceases to percolate 
through their beings, these Negroes become once 
more the restless, disillusioned creatures that 
they ordinarily are. 

Is the Negro happy? 

The question persists. Before the average 
white 100 per-center made answer to this query, 
he would probably think, first, of twelve million 
dissatisfied and discontented "darkies," then he 
would think of his airplanes, his riot guns, his 
tear-gas bombs; and then, finally, he would 
probably reflect : "Well, suppose the Negro is not 
happy,— what of it?" 




► »>» 



Page Eighty 



The Saturday Evening Quill Club 



ORGANIZED JULY, 1925 



Half M. Coleman was born in Newark, N. J., and was 
educated in the New Jersey public schools. For the last 
twelve years he has lived in Boston, where he has written 
and directed amateur plays. He is director of the Boston 
Players. 

Waring Cuney, born in Washington, D. C, is studying 
voice in Boston. His poems, especially "No Images" and 
"Murder Blues," have been extensively quoted, the latter 
appearing also in Braithwaite's 1928 Anthology. 

Alice C. Furlong comes from Albany, N. Y. She was 
educated in the Cambridge public schools. At the moment 
she is living in New York City. 

Eugene Gordon, contributor to various periodicals, is on 
the editorial staff of the Boston Post. He is president of 
the Saturday Evening Quill Club and editor of this an- 
nual. He was born in Florida. 

Edythe Mae Gordon, educated in Washington, D. C, 
where she was born, and in special courses at Boston and 
Harvard Universities, publishes verse for the first time 
this year. Her short story, "Subversion," in the first num- 
ber of The Saturday Evening Quill, was listed in the 
"0. Henry Memorial Award Prize Stories of 1928," as one 
of the distinguished "short short stories" of that year. 
She has contributed short stories to the Illustrated 
Feature Section of the Negro press. 

A. Aloysius Greene, to whose memory this number of 
The Saturday Evening Quill is dedicated, was born in 
Atlanta, Ga., and at the time of his death had lived in 
Boston six years. He was educated in the schools of 
Clayton, Del. 

Florence Marion Harmon studied at Gordon College of 
Theology and Missions, in Boston. She was born in Lynn, 
Mass. Miss Harmon is treasurer of the Saturday Evening 
Quill Club. 

Alvira Hazzard has been prolific as a writer of one-act 
plays, many of which have been acted by amateurs. Miss 
Hazzard was born at North Brookfield, Mass. She teaches 
in the Boston public schools. 

Helene Johnson, one of the most widely quoted of the 
younger poets, was born in Boston but now lives in New 
York. She has contributed to Palms, Opportunity: A 
Journal of Negro Life, and Vanity Fair. 

Joshua H. Jones, Jr., is a native of Orangeburg, S. C. 
He has served as sports and political editor of the Provi- 
dence News, sports editor of the Worcester Post, manag- 
ing editor of the Lawrence Sun and American, assistant 
city editor and city editor of the Boston Advertiser, re- 
write and copy-desk editor of the Boston Post, copy editor 
of the Boston Journal, and city editor of the Boston 
Telegram. He was secretary to Mayor James M. Curley 
of Boston for four years, during which time he was made 
editor of the City Record, a job he still holds. He is 
author of "The Heart of the World and Other Poems," 
"Poems of the Four Seas," and of one novel, "By Sanction 
of Law." Mr. Jones is a graduate of Brown University. 



Lois M. Jones is head of the art department, Palmer 
Memorial Institute, Sedalia, N. C. She was born in Bos- 
ton. 

George Reginald Margetson, author of "The Fledgling 
Bard and the Poetry Society" and "Songs of Life," was 
born at St. Kitts, B. W. I., and educated at Bethel Mora- 
vian School. He came to the United States in 1907. His 
work is represented in Braithwaite's "Poetic Year for 
1916 — A Critical Anthology," White and Jackson's "Book 
of American Negro Poetry, An Anthology," Kerlin's 
"Negro Poets and Their Poems," and Johnson's "The 
Book of American Negro Poetry." 

Gertrude Parthenia McBrown is well known as a writer 
of children's verse, much of which she has recited in pub- 
lic. She is a graduate of Emerson College of Oratory, 
Boston, and of Boston University (holding the degree of 
Master of Education from the latter), and is at present 
head of the Department of Fine Arts, Palmer Memorial 
Institute, Sedalia, N. C. Miss McBrown was born in 
Charleston, S. C. 

Joseph S. Mitchell, a graduate of Talladega College, 
Alabama, and of the Boston University Law School, is a 
practicing attorney in Boston. He has written several 
plays which have been popular with amateur performers. 

Grace Vera Postles, native of Chester, Pa., is a graduate 
of Cheney Normal School. She is now completing her 
senior year at Emerson College of Oratory. Before going 
to Emerson Miss Postles taught in the East Elkton School, 
Elkton, Va. She is secretary of the Saturday Evening 
Quill Club. 

Florida Ruffin Ridley is a native of Boston, where she 
was educated and where she taught for some time in the 
graded schools. From 1894 to 1910 she was assistant 
editor of the Woman's Era, published in Boston. Mrs. 
Ridley has contributed to various publications. 

Gertrude Schalk is editor of Sunburst, a literary maga- 
zine recently established in Boston. She is a frequent con- 
tributor to the Illustrated Feature Section of the Negro 
press, and her brief short stories have been widely dis- 
tributed, by the Wheeler Syndicate, Inc., among scores of 
daily and weekly newspapers of the country. Miss 
Schalk is studying journalism at Boston University. 

Earl Lawson Sydnor comes from Wayne, Pa., but at- 
tended the public schools of Orange, N. J. He is now 
preparing to enter college in Boston. He is a member of 
the Boston Players. Mr. Sydnor's poems have appeared 
in the Newark Herald. 

Dorothy West, now living in New York, was born in 
Boston. Her short stories have been for several successive 
years listed in the "Honor Roll" of Edward J. O'Brien's 
"Best Short Stories" series. 

Roscoe Wright was educated at Howard and Northeast- 
ern Universities. His two cover designs submitted in the 
1927 Crisis Krigwa Contest won second prize and honor- 
able mention, respectively. He comes from Lexington, Ky. 
He has a large following among readers of the Illustrated 
Feature Section of The Negro Press, to which publication 
he frequently contributes short stories. 




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